Cop convicted of misdemeanor after leaving scene of accident
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter February 7, 2014 2:53PM
Updated: March 9, 2014 6:19AM
A Chicago Police officer was convicted of a misdemeanor Friday for his role in an off-duty hit-and-run accident that seriously injured a young bicyclist in Logan Square
Michael Bergeson, 34, was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident without giving aid and proper information following the Aug. 3, 2012 accident at California and Wabansia.
Cook County Judge James Linn acquitted Bergeson of the more serious charges of felony leaving the scene of an accident, filing a false police report and disorderly conduct.
Bergeson, who allegedly had been drinking, had stopped and called 911 three times after he hit Nina Pilacoutas with his Ford F150 but he never admitted that he hit her, who he was or where he was when he made those calls, Assistant State’s Attorney Lauren Freeman said.
On the day of the accident, responding officers were able to trace the license plate to Bergeson’s home in the 1800 block of North Whipple, prosecutors said. He didn’t answer the door, and the truck was nowhere to be seen.
Two days later, the officer filed a police report in the 25th District, stating that he was traveling northbound on California when the victim disregarded a stop sign at Wabansia and hit him, prosecutors said.
Bergeson also allegedly blamed Pilacoutas for his license plate falling off.
Pilacoutas, a sculptor and bartender, 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’ boyfriend was with her riding another bike when she was hit and told Bergeson to stay away from her and wait for police.
“I was pretty shocked someone trained in a scenario would turn his back so readily. He should have done more,” 27-year-old Pilacoutas said following the verdict.
During closing arguments in the bench trial, Freeman told the judge not to give Bergeson a break because he is a police officer.
“Do not give the guy a break because he called 911 in a drunken cryptic manner . . . That what makes it worse because the defendant is a cop and he leaves a bleeding young woman in the middle of the street because he’s drunk,” Freeman said.
Defense attorneys pointed that Pilacoutas herself was drinking after her bartending shift and was riding her bike without a helmet when she was struck around 3:25 a.m. that morning.
Tom Breen also said there is no evidence Bergeson was behind the wheel when Pilacoutas was hit.
Linn pointed that Bergeson did wait until he knew an ambulance was coming before he fled. The judge also noted that initial police reports are always full of errors.
Linn said he does not treat a police officer any “better or any worse” than any other civilian.
Bergeson refused comment.
He faces probation or up to a year in prison.