Stefano Esposito, The Chicago Sun-Times
Copyright 2006 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
A Chicago Police officer on trial in the videotaped beating of a man outside the Cabrini-Green public housing complex was found not guilty of all the charges against him Tuesday.
As Judge Joseph Kazmierski announced the verdict, more than a dozen supporters of officer Bryan Vander Mey -- including other Chicago Police officers -- burst into loud applause in the 26th and California courtroom.
"Quiet!" bellowed Kazmierski at the interruption. "One more remark, and I'll clear the courtroom."
In a very brief statement, Kazmierski said he agreed with the trial witnesses who described the grainy videotape footage as unclear and chaotic.
Afterward, a tearful Vander Mey hugged supporters, including his wife, with whom he had been sitting hand in hand prior to the judge's decision Tuesday.
Vander Mey was charged with multiple counts each of official misconduct and battery in the April 17, 2003, beating of Rondell Freeman, 29. At the time, police had an arrest warrant for a man accompanying Freeman.
During the trial, Vander Mey's police partner, Joseph Groh, testified that it "appeared" to be Vander Mey on the home-made video. But Groh said he couldn't be 100 percent sure, and he testified he never actually witnessed Vander Mey beat anyone. No officers testified they witnessed Vander Mey strike Freeman.
And when Freeman was treated shortly after the alleged beating, the doctor examining him found no evidence of bruises or other injuries, and Freeman never complained he'd been beaten.
Jim Knibbs, one of the prosecutors handling the case, said he was disappointed at the result and said it was "a difficult case."
"We have the greatest respect for Judge Kazmierski," Knibbs said. "We're disappointed with the outcome. We put on the best case we could and the best facts we had."
Vander Mey, who is suspended without pay from his job, now awaits a May termination hearing before the Chicago Police Board, said police spokeswoman Monique Bond.
Chicago cop acquitted in 2003 beating