The police officer at the center of the latest xenophobic attack has resigned ahead of a hearing on the incident. The cop is receiving harsh criticisms over his failure to act in a dispute between a man and a woman over the woman’s Puerto Rico flag shirt. According to the Chicago Tribune, Officer Patrick Connor was placed on desk duty while authorities investigated the incident. Rather than waiting on the results of the investigation, Connor decided to leave the Forest Preserve of Cook County police force. He was supposed to explain “the whole story” to his bosses why he stood idly by as an allegedly drunk man verbally assaulted a woman at a Northwest Side forest preserve. Connor has been working there since 2006.
A woman who was visiting Caldwell Woods on June 14 complained that a man approached her and questioned her citizenship, telling her she shouldn’t be wearing the Puerto Rico shirt, even though the Caribbean island is a U.S. commonwealth and its residents are considered American citizens.
Video of the incident shows the officer nearby but not responding. Other officers eventually arrived and arrested the man.
Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia called Connor’s resignation “a commonsense decision after his inaction and failure to serve Cook County.
“However, this still leaves many questions unanswered,” Garcia said in a statement. “Cook County Government must not only review the types of trainings that officers and staff in all departments receive, but how they are implemented and held accountable.”
Officials at the forest preserve are expected to release more details about the incident and the investigation during a press conference Thursday morning.
Tamara Cummings, general counsel for the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, urged the community to be patient during the investigation. “The video does not look good, but anybody who is a football fan knows that the video does not tell the whole story. We still don’t know what happened outside the video. We don’t know what was going on inside his head.”
Mia Irizarry posted the 36-minute Caldwell Woods video to Facebook eliciting international headlines and widespread condemnation.
Based on the initial results of the investigation, Connor warranted suspension without pay or termination.
Other officers eventually arrived and the woman was able to file a police report. Trybus, who according to the police report was drunk at the time, was charged with assault and disorderly conduct. But the Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday that authorities are considering whether to upgrade the charge to a hate crime.
Irizarry told the officers Trybus “approached her and made rude comments” while she was setting up for a picnic, and then Trybus “got in her face while pointing a finger at her,” according to the police report.
Irizarry had rented a forest preserve pavilion to celebrate her 24th birthday and was issued a permit for the event. After the ordeal, she was issued a refund, and the county gave Irizarry zoo passes to the Brookfield Zoo, which is owned by the Cook County Forest Preserve District.