Police board rejects deal to suspend Chicago cop 60 days in woman’s death
BY TIM NOVAK AND CHRIS FUSCO Staff Reporters January 21, 2014 4:26PM
Chicago police Sgt. Steven E. Lesner. | Sun-Times files
Updated: February 23, 2014 6:32AM
In an unusual move, the Chicago Police Board has rejected a proposed deal under which a police sergeant had agreed to be suspended for 60 days because his gun was used in the shooting death of a Northwest Side woman four years ago.
The police board scrapped the deal that police Supt. Garry McCarthy had struck with Sgt. Steven Lesner.
Instead, the eight-member panel of mayoral appointees has ordered a full inquiry into the events that led to Catherine Weiland’s death, Max Caproni, the board’s executive director, said Tuesday.
“We respect the police board’s preference to have a hearing on the matter,” McCarthy’s spokesman Adam Collins said.
McCarthy had recommended the 60-day punishment following a Chicago Sun-Times report last August that Lesner met the intoxicated woman while on duty, bought her wine and drove her home.
After his shift ended, Lesner returned to Weiland’s home, where she died of a gunshot from his weapon around 1:40 a.m. on Feb. 18, 2009. Lesner told investigators he was in her bathroom and had left his gun out. The police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled that Weiland, 47, committed suicide by shooting herself in the head while sitting on a love seat in her living room.
Authorities found that a bullet from Lesner’s gun entered Weiland’s right temple. The only gunshot residue found was on Weiland’s left hand. Lesner washed his hands before evidence technicians checked his hands for gunshot residue, according to police reports.
Lesner was stripped of his police powers and given “restricted duties” for almost two years after the incident, according to his attorney, Thomas Pleines.
He was back on the job, working the midnight shift in the 17th District, when the Sun-Times published a story Aug. 19 on Weiland’s death. The case had been under investigation for more than four years by the department’s Internal Affairs Division.
Now, Lesner, 48, has again been stripped of his police powers. He served half of the 60-day suspension McCarthy imposed for leaving his weapon unattended and transporting alcohol in a police vehicle.
Lesner’s attorney declined to comment.