Cop accused of beating teens who smashed window
BY STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
A Park Ridge police lieutenant accused of beating two teenagers -- and allegedly continued beating one of them even after he lost consciousness -- appeared in court Monday, charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct.
The bond hearing for Lt. Jason Leavitt comes some four years after the incident, which occurred when the two 15-year-old boys smashed Leavitt's car window with a slingshot in the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 2006. At the time, the boys had been having a sleepover and were out traipsing around a nearby cemetery, according to civil suit filed in the case in 2007.
On Monday, Cook County Judge Nicholas Ford set bond at $10,000 for Leavitt, 39, a married father of two and Park Ridge police officer since 1994.
In court, prosecutors said Leavitt was driving home from a night watchman job at Maine South High School when a projectile smashed one of his windows. Leavitt jumped out of his car and chased down one of the teens, striking him so hard that he knocked him out, Cook County assistant state's attorney Mike Golden said.
The victim "states that when he regained consciousness, he was on the ground on his back, with the defendant straddling him and punching him in the face," Golden said. Leavitt then caught up with the second youth -- after other Park Ridge officers had handcuffed him -- and kicked him in the head, Golden said. After the second youth had been put in the back of a police squad car, Leavitt punched and choked him, prosecutors say.
The families of both youths filed lawsuits against the city of Park Ridge, Leavitt and several of the police officers who responded to the 2006 incident. The city has since settled with both families, paying out about $180,000 in one of the cases, said Nancy Gleason, the attorney for both boys. Gleason said both of the youths are now in college.
Gleason is the aunt of one of the boys. Gleason said her sister, the boy's mother, has moved the family away from Park Ridge to another suburb "because of feeling very, very harassed by Park Ridge police."
Gleason said her sister's family wants nothing to do with the criminal case.
"They've washed their hands of it," Gleason said.
Leavitt's attorney, Tom Needham, said after Monday's hearing that his client is innocent and that the officers who were witnesses in 2006 will "back him up" on the witness stand.
"The criminals here were the intoxicated juveniles who were shooting at people in the cemetery," Needham said. "My client was one of several cars struck."
Contributing: Steve Warmbir