Dad of teen held in videotaped beating: ‘What he did was wrong’
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN, LAUREN FITZPATRICK AND KIM JANSSEN Staff Reporters January 18, 2012 9:16AM
Updated: February 21, 2012 8:21AM
First, Raymond Palomino and some friends asked a 15-year-old girl to lure their victim to an alley in Bridgeport, prosecutors said.
Then, when the 17-year-old boy appeared, Palomino allegedly yelled, “Get him!”
The group of teens then dragged, punched, beat, stomped and robbed the teen, authorities said. All the while, one of them recorded the attack on a cell phone — and posted it on YouTube in a video that has since gone viral and drawn national attention.
The details of the weekend attack and charges were laid out in Cook County Criminal Court Wednesday as authorities announced charges in the case against Palomino, 17, and six other teens.
All of the attackers wore hoods or masks — except Palomino, authorities said.
When the video went viral, relatives and neighbors recognized Palomino and called his dad, Michael Palomino, a Cook County sheriff’s deputy for 30 years.
Michael Palomino then called police and turned his son in, he said.
“Being in law enforcement, I just couldn’t put my blinders on and not do anything after I saw what I saw,” said Michael Palomino.
While the elder Palomino admitted what his son did was “wrong” and said his son will have to “suffer the consequences,” he also said prosecutors unfairly portrayed the teen as the aggressor.
Raymond Palomino never stole the victim’s book bag and doesn’t appear in the video until minutes into it, which proves he didn’t initiate the attack as authorities have claimed, Michael Palomino said.
“What he did was wrong, but he was in it with the rest of them. He wasn’t the initiator,” Michael Palomino, 51, said. “He’s being made the fall guy because he’s 17.”
He described his son as a “fair” student and “good kid” but said he may have been negatively influenced by others.
Raymond Palomino was charged as an adult. Hearings for the other six — including the 15-year-old girl, two 16-year-old boys and three 15-year-old boys — were postponed in Juvenile Court as officials sought a Cantonese translator. Five of the six are Chinese, officials said. Their names were not released.
Each was charged with robbery and aggravated battery, both felonies, officials said.
Palomino, of the 3500 block of South Hoyne, was ordered by Cook County Judge Israel Desierto held in lieu of $100,000 bond.
At a news conference Wednesday, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy denied any racial motivation for the attack, even though the attackers can be heard using the N-word multiple times on the video. McCarthy said the attack stemmed from an October fight between the alleged attackers and the victim — who is also of Asian descent — and his friends.
“This was in no way, shape or form a biased incident,” McCarthy said. “Honestly, the races are irrelevant to this case.” He wouldn’t provide any more details on the juvenile defendants, except to say they attend different high schools.
The video and online comments about it led to swift arrests, he said, but also threats against the teens that may also be investigated.
Why anyone would post such incriminating footage, he couldn’t answer.
“Great question. Don’t know. ... This is what kids do today, which is quite frankly ridiculously stupid.”
At Palomino’s hearing Wednesday, where he appeared wearing a grey sweatshirt and jeans, assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti said the teens were relentless in their attack, which took place at 4 p.m. in the 2800 block of South Princeton — behind James Ward Elementary School.
“The defendant and the other co-offenders picked him up, dragged him five to six feet and punched, kicked and stomped his head, face and torso,” Antonietti said.
She said the victim was put in a chokehold at one point during the attack; at that point Palomino allegedly removed a shoe from the victim’s backpack and used it to hit him repeatedly in the face.
The group “followed him, pursued him and stopped him from fleeing,” Antonietti said of the victim. The attack only ended when the teens saw an adult in the area, she said.
The victim suffered a swollen and bloody nose, cuts to his lips and bruising to his eyes, ribs and other parts of his body.
Palomino allegedly later took the victim’s backpack and wallet, she said, and removed cash from the wallet and tossed it in a sewer. Police said $180 was taken.
Palomino’s attorney, Ilia Usharovich, said Palomino attends Kelly High School and works at Potash Bros.
“Everything you heard is a one-sided story,” Usharovich told the judge. But his client, he said, hung his head down throughout the hearing because “he can’t look at anybody in the face because he’s embarrassed.”
Usharovich called the $100,000 bail “a spit in his [client’s] face.”
After the court hearing, Michael Palomino told the Sun-Times the bond was “too high” and said he can’t afford to bail his son out.
“I’m upset with what happened in court,” he said.
He said he never married his son’s mother and has not seen her since 1996. Court records say the woman has a lengthy arrest record and is in jail in Indiana on forgery charges.
At a Juvenile court hearing for Palomino’s alleged accomplices, Judge Terrence Sharkey continued the cases of all six until next Tuesday, so that a Cantonese interpreter can be found to assist in their hearings. Until then the youths — many of whom have final exams on Friday — must keep an 8 p.m. curfew and maintain a C grade average, the judge told them.
They were also warned not to have any contact with the victim.
During the hearing, the four Chicago boys, one Chicago girl and one Arlington Heights boy, spoke only to confirm their identities and say that they understood their rights.
They and their parents declined to comment as they left court.
No one came to the door of the victim’s home Wednesday.
Contributing: Christin Nance