JOLIET, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) – A civil lawsuit against the Chicago Heights Police Department continues, a day after a Steger man was convicted of aggravated DUI in the case.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports, a Will County jury this week found Cecil Conner Jr. guilty of driving under the influence in the high-speed crash that led to the death of his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son, Michael Langford Jr., last spring.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Lisa Fielding reports
The boy died after Conner slammed their Chevrolet Cavalier into a tree, ricocheted into a cyclone fence and uprooted a pine tree at Carpenter Street and Steger Road. Conner’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.
But the girlfriend, Kathie LaFond, still contends it was Chicago Heights police officer Chris Felicetti’s fault. She and Conner claim that Felicetti ordered Conner to drive after arresting LaFond, the designated driver, for driving on a suspended license.
Conner’s attorney, Jeff Tomczak, during closing arguments at his trial insisted the case was one of “entrapment and necessity,” arguing Conner only got behind the wheel because Felicetti ordered him to drive and threatened to arrest Conner if he failed to comply. LaFond testified she told Felicetti three times that Conner was drunk, and she was his designated driver.
Attorney Mark Horwitz now says the guilty verdict only supports his case against the Chicago Heights Police Department.
“With that conviction, the question now becomes an easier question for us to answer in a civil courtroom, and that is why didn’t Felicetti see this?” Horwitz said. “If a jury of his peers convicted him of it yesterday, the one person that could have stopped it from happening was the man that handed him the keys.”
At trial, Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Deborah Mills told jurors LaFond and Conner made several inconsistent statements, which casts doubt on their version of events. She reminded the jury of testimony from a security supervisor at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights, who rebutted LaFond’s insistence she told Felicetti that Conner was drunk and she was his ride home.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.