Cop gets court supervision in off-duty hit-run of bicyclist
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter March 12, 2014 12:58PM
Updated: April 14, 2014 10:58AM
Nina Pilacoutas looked Chicago Police Officer Michael Bergeson in the eye Wednesday and branded him a “coward” for nearly “killing” her and leaving her bleeding on the streets after ramming his truck into her bicycle in Logan Square.
“Shame on you,” Pilacoutas said to Bergeson before he was sentenced to a year of court supervision — similar to probation — and 30 days of community service at a rehabilitation center for his role in the off-duty hit-and-run crash.
As an officer trained in high-octane situations, Bergeson should have known better when he fled and called 911 three times without identifying himself or admitting what he had done at the intersection of California and Wabansia avenues on Aug. 13, 2010, Pilacoutas said.
“He is a coward and does not deserve to wield a badge,” the 27-year-old sculptor and bartender told Cook County Judge James Linn.
Bergeson, in turn, told Pilacoutas that he was sorry. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart,” the 34-year-old father said in a cracking voice.
Bergeson, who has been placed on administrative duties, also told Pilacoutas that he prays for her every night.
Linn convicted Bergeson last month of misdemeanor leaving the scene of an accident without giving aid.
Bergeson was acquitted of the more serious charges of felony leaving the scene of an accident, filing a false police report and disorderly conduct.
Bergeson’s license plate fell off his Ford F-150 when he hit Pilacoutas who was cycling, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Lauren Freeman said.
Police were able to trace the license plate to Bergeson’s home in the 1800 block of North Whipple Street, but once officers arrived, he didn’t answer the door, and the truck was nowhere to be seen.
Two days later, Bergeson filed a police report in the 25th District, stating that he was traveling northbound on California when Pilacoutas disregarded a stop sign at Wabansia and hit him, prosecutors said.
Pilacoutas suffered a concussion, several broken bones and blunt trauma to her head after she flew over Bergeson’s truck’s hood and landed on the pavement.
Pilacoutas’ mother, a nurse, told Bergeson that he, like her, should be held to a higher standard.
“Society expects more from us,” Therese Fitzpatrick told Bergeson before he was sentenced.
Bergeson was in the “wrong” but is an otherwise “outstanding” police officer, Linn said after defense attorney Thomas Breen described his client as a “wonderful” man who has received 114 commendations during his career.
Linn also ordered Bergeson to pay $2,250 in restitution to Pilacoutas.