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NIU police chief fired; lawyer says he’ll ‘fight this in every way possible’

Northern Illinois University Police Chief Donald Grady talks reporters Feb. 15 2008 day after former NIU student killed himself after

Northern Illinois University Police Chief Donald Grady talks to reporters on Feb. 15, 2008, the day after a former NIU student killed himself after fatally shooting five students on campus. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

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Updated: March 21, 2013 6:51AM



Donald Grady, the chief of police for Northern Illinois University, was fired Tuesday, five years after he was praised as a hero for his reaction to a mass shooting on campus.

Grady was put on paid leave Nov. 10 as the school reviewed the police department’s handling of a case in which Andrew Rifkin, then an NIU police officer under Grady’s command, was charged with sexually assaulting a freshman at the school.

The case was dismissed late last year when a DeKalb County judge ruled an officer withheld evidence that could have cleared Rifkin.

“The NIU police department was the sole reason why I decided to drop the case,” DeKalb County State’s Attorney Clay Campbell said at the time. “You cannot base a prosecution on a police investigation that lacks integrity.”

Grady’s attorney, Michael Fox, said Tuesday there was no proof that Grady knew about the withholding of evidence in the Rifkin case.

“The reasons for terminating him are baseless and in our opinion are unlawful,” Fox said. “My client is going to fight this in every way possible. The university has couched its position by basically saying, ‘We think you knew, but if you didn’t know, you should have known.’ ”

Rifkin was fired from the police force after he was charged with sexual assault. He later filed a lawsuit alleging that he was set up by fellow officers.

Grady, who became NIU police chief in 2001, was paid an annual salary of $206,000.

On Feb. 14, 2008, after a gunman opened fire in a campus lecture hall, Grady, a former track star, ran the 400 yards from his office against waves of fleeing students to find that the gunman, former NIU student Steven Kazmierczak, had killed himself and five students. Survivors praised Grady for his bravery.



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