Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 31, 2011

Champaign Police Release Calvin Miller Video

The Champaign Police Department has released a two-hour video from the high-speed traffic pursuit and arrest of 18-year-old Calvin Miller on Oct. 24, 2011,

Police say the only thing edited out of the video is Miller stating his social security number for police. The footage comes from several different police car dash cameras that show multiple angles of the pursuit. It starts off with police tailing Miller's van for about two minutes until the teen's vehicle stops in front of a house.

Police say the van destroyed the front porch of a home. Miller then jumped out of the vehicle on the intersection of Greenbrier and Arcadia and fled from the van, out of camera range. Within a few seconds, microphones attached to police officers' uniforms picked up the sound of Miller evidently being subdued.

OFFICER: Get your hands right here. Don't spit on any one of us. MILLER: I'm not going to spit on you officer ...if you could just give me some water. OFFICER: We don't have any water. MILLER: Officer, please....officer please. OFFICER: We don't have any water with us. MILLER: OK. OFFICER: Stand still.

After the confrontation, one of the officers on the scene asked Miller why he ran.

"He just told me to," Miller replied.

It is not clear from the audio who 'he' refers to or whether Miller reached for the officer's duty belt as police have claimed. Calvin's father, Martel Miller, has said that he never told his son to run from police. Speaking to other media outlets after the release of the video, Miller admits his son broke traffic rules, but contends that he shouldn't have been beaten by police officers.

Another thing that is not clear is how Miller was subdued. Police say Miller was pepper sprayed and struck with an officer's hand. The teen's father has said his son was sprayed with mace, struck repeatedly on the face, head and ankle, and hit with a baton.

Both police and Miller supporters are expected to address the issue at Tuesday night's Champaign City Council meeting, which starts at 7pm at the City Building.

Tags: crime, people

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 28, 2011

Champaign Police Union Responds to Outcry Over Arrest

Champaign's Police union says some members of the community are rushing to judgment on this week's arrest of 18-year old Calvin Miller.

In a press release issued by the state's Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, the union mentions the events of Monday's early morning hours, when police say the teen ran red lights, ran over a curb, and his van struck the front of a house after exiting the vehicle. Miller then reportedly ran on foot, and struggled with police before the arrest. The incident has led to angry comments from local activists, including Martel Miller, the teen's father, who claims police beat the teen repeatedly.

The FOP says it's encouraging all citizens of the city, and especially elected officials, to withhold judgment until all of the facts and circumstances have been released. The union says it's 'confident they will demonstrate that use of force was appropriate and reasonable under both department policy and the law.'

Champaign Police Chief R.T. Finney says officials with his department will likely address the city council on Tuesday night.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 28, 2011

New Records Show More Restaurant Inspection Failures

New Records Show More Restaurant Inspection Failures

(Reported by Dan Petrella of CU-CitizenAccess)

When public health officials conducted a routine inspection of Quizno's in Urbana last month, they discovered 12 critical health-code violations.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 28, 2011

California Seeks Death for Chicago Serial Killer

When Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation abolishing the death penalty in the state earlier this year, it spared the lives of 15 men on death row.

But one of them may not be off the hook.

Andrew Urdiales, 47, a former U.S. Marine, could be put to death if he is found guilty in the deaths of five women in Southern California.

The Orange County District Attorney's office announced this week that it will seek the death penalty against Urdiales if he's convicted in the murders.

"We will be seeking the death penalty for the crimes that he committed in California," according to Howard Gundy, senior deputy district attorney for the Orange County D.A.'s office. "The factors of aggravation, which would call for the stiffest penalty, far outweigh any of the factors in mitigation."

Urdiales is now awaiting trial in Orange County for the deaths.

He was extradited from the Pontiac Correctional Facility in Pontiac, Illinois in late September.

At Pontiac, Urdiales had been on death row for the murders of Laura Uylaki, 25, of Hammond, Ind., and Lynn Huber, 22, of Chicago.

Their bodies were dumped near Wolf Lake which straddles the Illinois-Indiana state line near Hammond.

In 2004, Urdiales was sentenced to death again for the 1996 murder of Cassandra "Cassie" Corum, 21, of Hammond.

Prosecutors say Urdiales dumped her body in the Vermilion River in Pontiac.

But the change in Illinois law in March abolishing the death penalty commuted Urdiales' sentence to life without the possibility of parole.

Urdiales will be arraigned in Orange County on Dec. 1for the additional five homicides. Of the five homicides, three took place in Riverside County, one in San Diego County, and one in Orange County.

Gundy said it was decided to consolidate the five cases with the trial happening in Orange County.

Prosecutors say the killing started back in 1984 when Urdiales was a 19-year-old Marine stationed in Southern California until his discharge in 1991. That's when he returned to the South Chicago neighborhood where he grew up.

Four of the five California victims are described as prostitutes ranging in age from 21 to 32.

His first California victim was 23-year-old Robbin Brandley who had been volunteering as an usher at a concert. Prosecutors say Urdiales wanted to kill a random person so he sought Brandley out following the concert and as she walked to her car. He's alleged to have stabbed her 41 times with a six-inch hunting blade.

The case was cracked open in November 1996 when Urdiales was arrested by police in Hammond, Ind., for loitering in his truck near an area known for prostitutes. Police confiscated a handgun which he was not licensed to carry.

Ballistic testing in April 1997 by Illinois police found the gun confiscated by Urdiales was the same firearm used to shoot and murder three of the victims.

Urdialeswas soon after arrested for the three murders.

(AP Photo/Illinois Department of Corrections, File)

Categories: Criminal Justice
Tags: crime

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 28, 2011

Miller Refutes Police Account of Son’s Alleged Beating

Critics of the Champaign Police Department are expressing outrage, and a differing account of the arrest of an African-American teen last weekend, that they say involved excessive use of force.

Police say Calvin Miller ran a red light and swerved into traffic to avoid police on Monday at around 1:30 am, and then at one point, jumped from a moving van, which hit the front of the house. Police say Miller then reached for the officer's duty belt, and the officer struck him with his hand.

"It's a situation that could have been resolved very, very minimal with the officer stopping, the potential for a ticket, and the offender going on," Champaign Police Chief R.T. Finney told WDWS radio. "We don't make the decision for people to run....if you run from the police, not only is it illegal, but it's going to have some dire consequences."

Responding to the police department's account of what happened, Calvin's father, Martel Miller claims police rammed into his son's car, and then maced him with pepper spray, struck him repeatedly on the face, head and ankle, and hit him with a baton.

"This is part of racial profiling," Miller told a crowd Thursday outside of the Champaign Police Department. "What I want you all to understand is abuse with black young men has been going on for too long, and it's by this department."

The incident comes two years after the police shooting death of teenager Kiwane Carrington.

Miller said he hasn't yet filed a formal complaint against the police department. In the last few days, there has been flurry of outrage over the alleged police beating of his son, and there are calls for major changes in the police department. Aaron Ammons, the co-founder of C-U Citizens for Peace and Justice, said there is no reason Miller should have been struck in the first place.

"We're asking for and demanding that these officers be removed, those who have been problems throughout the community ongoing that they can be removed and that new officers are brought in," Ammons said. "And bring more African American and people of color officers into this department who live here, who know the community, and who have a stake in the community."

Finney said the case will be reviewed to determine if there was excessive force used. Finney noted that officials with his department will likely address the city council on Tuesday night. Critics of the police department are expected to do the same. The Champaign City Council plans to discuss a proposal for a citizens police review board later this fall. That proposal was brought up last week, before the Calvin Miller arrest.

"Certainly the officers had every reason to get him into custody, and protect themselves in that backyard, and I think that's what they did," Finney said, adding that there wasn't anything he believed the police officers could have done in the situation.

At Thursday's demonstration outside of the Champaign Police Department, 30-year-old Gary McFarland of Champaign came forward. He said at the start of October, a Champaign police officer hit him as he was trying to enter his home.

McFarland said that incident resulted in his jaw having to be wired shut: "He never asked my name. He never asked for my ID. He never searched me. I could have been anybody."

A review of court records show McFarland was charged with resisting a police officer and criminal trespassing on Oct. 3, 2011.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 28, 2011

Robert Blagojevich: ‘Unanswered Questions’  Regarding US Rep. Jackson

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother wants to testify before the U.S. House Committee on Ethics investigating whether an Illinois congressman sought to raise money for Blagojevich for an appointment to President Barack Obama's old Senate seat.

Robert Blagojevich told Thursday''s Chicago Sun-Times he's written to committee members offering testimony about Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr.

Rod Blagojevich was convicted of trying to sell Obama's seat. Related charges Robert once faced were dropped. Trial witnesses alleged Jackson supporters offered fundraising for the governor if Jackson became senator.

Jackson's denied wrongdoing and hasn't been charged. He testified at Blagojevich's retrial that he's "never directed anyone to raise money for another politician.'' His spokesman declined comment yesterday.

But Robert Blagojevich says "there are a lot of unanswered questions (Jackson) should be required to answer.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 27, 2011

Ill. Commission Votes to Block Facility Closures

A bipartisan legislative commission is rejecting Gov. Pat Quinn's proposal to close three social-service facilities and a youth prison.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability cast advisory votes Thursday against closing a juvenile detention center in Murphysboro, a developmental center in Dixon and mental health hospitals in Rockford and Chester.

Quinn announced last month he needs to close seven facilities and lay off nearly 2,000 employees because of budget shortfalls.

A spokeswoman says Quinn has no choice but to shut the facilities unless the Legislature appropriates more money.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees opposes the closures. Executive Director Henry Bayer says the votes indicate lawmakers believe the facilities are necessary. The commission has yet to vote on closing facilities in Lincoln, Jacksonville and Tinley Park.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 27, 2011

Man Thought to be Gacy Victim, Found Living in Florida

A man thought to have been a victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy has been discovered living in Florida.

After the Cook County Sheriff exhumed remains of eight Gacy victims, the family of Harold Wayne Lovell came forward in an effort to find a match. Instead, they discovered that Lovell had been living in Florida all along. He'd vanished from Aurora in 1977 and had some trouble with the police along the way. Sheriff Tom Dart said the family was convinced Lovell was a victim based on a piece of jewelry found at Gacy's house. But they had no dental records to make a comparison at the time.

Lovell, now 53, has been reunited with his family.

Sheriff Dart said investigations have become more accurate over the past couple of decades.

"Back in the late 70s and prior to that, the way that missing persons were handled as a whole was not very scientific at all. And so people that had concerns back then, now would be the time whether or not they thought they were involved in the Gacy case or not. Come forward and have your DNA submitted," Dart said.

Dart said more than 120 families have come forward to see if their loved one is possibly among the victims. Results could be revealed in two to three weeks.

Gacy was convicted of murdering 33 men and boys in the 1970s. He was executed in 1994.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 26, 2011

Police Release Description of Events Leading up to Teen’s Arrest

The Champaign Police Department has released its account of what occurred early Monday morning when 18-year old Calvin Miller was arrested.

The arrest and alleged police beating of the teen sparked a protest from around 100 people at Tuesday's Champaign City Council meeting, including his father, activist Martel Miller. The press release described what occurred before Miller's arrest on counts of Resisting a Police Officer, Fleeing or Attempting to Elude, and a traffic signal violation.

In the release issued Wednesday night, police say an officer saw a van speeding as it left the University Village apartments about 1:30 a.m. Monday. Police say the officer had trouble catching up with the eastbound driver, who ran a red light at Moreland Boulevard and Marketview Drive, and the officer wasn't able to catch up until he reached Neil Street.

Police say the officer turned on his overhead lights, but the driver continued on until jumping from the moving van, which had slowed down just before hitting the front of a home on Arcadia Drive. Police say damage wasn't serious, and that the squad car made no contact with the van.

A foot chase then ensued, in which police say the officer gave out clear and loud commands for the subject to stop. Police say he jumped a fence in the 200 block of Arcadia, and fell to the ground. When ordered to put his arms behind his back, the man resisted. Police say when he reached for the officer's duty belt, the officer struck the subject with his hand to subdue him. When a second officer arrived, he used pepper spray before making the arrest.

Officers say the 18-year old Miller was taken to Carle Hospital for a medical evaluation before being transferred to the Champaign County Satellite Jail. He later posted bond and was released.

Champaign police say to date, there has not been a formal complaint filed regarding Miller's arrest, although Martel Miller said Tuesday he is talking to lawyers about his son's case.

Champaign Police says staff will assess the officers' responses to ensure that all actions were in accordance with departmental policies and procedures.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 26, 2011

State High Court Suspends Blagojevich Law License

(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)

The Illinois Supreme Court has suspended convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's license to practice law.

The court acted Wednesday in response to a request from the state Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. The Commission noted he was found "guilty of crimes that involve moral terpitude and reflect adversely upon his fitness to practice law."

Blagojevich's legal career got off to a rough start. The ex-governor has described his first year at Pepperdine Law School as "almost catastrophic" because he was more interested with history books than law ones. It also took him a couple tries to pass the bar exam.

Blagojevich is currently awaiting sentencing on federal corruption convictions that he tried to personally profit from his appointment of a U.S. senator for the seat vacated by President Barack Obama and other wrongdoing.

The ruling won't have much impact on Blagojevich.

The Chicago Democrat has been a lawyer since 1984, but he hasn't practiced law since joining Congress in 1997. He was governor from 2003 to 2009, when he was impeached and removed from office.

For now, the Illinois Supreme Court's order is a temporary suspension. Suspension could lead to disbarment. Two other former Illinois governors - Otto Kerner and Dan Walker - were both disbarred following criminal convictions.

Blagojevich's lawyers could not be reached for comment, and the former governor's spokesman had no immediate response.


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