Police, prosecutors differ on charging driver in alleged incident outside Aurora clinic
BY DAN ROZEK Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org May 19, 2013 2:52PM
Updated: June 21, 2013 6:28AM
A driver accused of swerving his SUV at a teenage demonstrator outside an Aurora Planned Parenthood clinic was charged with aggravated assault even though police said security cameras never showed him veering toward the protester.
Aurora police investigators, after interviewing witnesses and checking video from several cameras, closed their investigation into the Feb. 16 incident without seeking criminal charges.
DuPage County prosecutors in March moved on their own, charging Naperville resident Michael Fabian with the misdemeanor offense, alleging in their complaint he swerved towards the female 16-year-old student, “nearly striking her.”
Fabian, 25, makes his first court appearance Monday in an unusual case that saw police and prosecutors reach different conclusions about the same evidence.
Prosecutors and Aurora police would say little about the case, though police reports make it clear their disagreement focuses on security-camera video that recorded the 10:15 a.m. incident.
The teenage demonstrator was standing with other protesters handing out leaflets at the edge of frontage road leading from the clinic, according to investigators’ reports obtained by the Sun-Times under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
The teen, whose name was redacted because of her age, told investigators the Yukon GMC was leaving the clinic when it abruptly swerved “five to 10 feet” in her direction, forcing her to quickly move several steps back to avoid being hit.
Six other witnesses — all demonstrators who were with the teen outside the clinic — told investigators they also saw the SUV veer towards the girl, though they offered differing descriptions of how much it swerved and how close it came.
Police opted not to seek charges against Fabian after concluding the security videos didn’t support those statements.
“All video evidence has been reviewed and did not show a clear swerve in the direction of the victim that was reported. Several different angles were reviewed that all showed the suspect vehicle appear to drive in a straight, non-aggressive manner,” Detective Darrell Moore wrote in the final police report, dated April 29.
Aurora Police Chief Greg Thomas declined to comment on the case. Police also declined to release the video, citing the teen’s age.
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin wouldn’t comment directly on the police reports, but in a statement defended the decision to charge Fabian.
“Based on our review, there is sufficient admissible evidence to support a conviction on this case,” Berlin said in the statement.
A witness disputed the conclusion by police, saying he clearly saw the SUV veer towards the teen, who was one of about 10 students from the Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights demonstrating outside the clinic.
“I’m beyond positive,” said David Bergquist, security director at the school. “I’m perfectly willing to go to court and swear on it.”
The clinic, which opened in 2007, has drawn regular protests because it provides abortion services.
Fabian, whom police said was leaving the clinic parking lot with a woman passenger when the confrontation occurred, couldn’t be reached for comment.
But his attorney said Fabian plans to contest the charge, which carries a maximum one-year jail term and $2,500 fine.
“We’re going to fight this,” said defense attorney Richard Kayne, who declined to comment further, except to say: “our investigation is continuing.”