ST. CHARLES, Ill. (CBS) — A Kane County jury has convicted an Elk Grove Village man of aggravated battery, but acquitted him of attempted murder for trying to run over a Chicago police officer near Elgin two years ago.
Jurors deliberated just 2 1/2 hours before handing down the verdict on Tuesday.
Prosecutors had argued that Andrzej Wojtkielewicz, 23, was trying to run over the officer as he was fleeing police from Chicago to the Elgin Toll Plaza on I-90.
But defense attorneys claimed Wojtkielewicz’s car, a 2001 Mercedes Benz SUV, was in park when officer Michael Orlando shot the defendant in the chest.
The aggravated battery charge was based on accusations that Wojtkielewicz — whose SUV was boxed in by several Chicago police cars — had thrown the vehicle in reverse just before the shooting, knocking over and injuring officer Christopher Andersen in the process. Anderson was treated for abrasions and other injuries at Elgin’s Sherman Hospital.
Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Mark Stajdohar said he wasn’t entirely surprised at the verdict, because attempted murder is difficult to prove.
“You have to prove intent to kill. You have to base that on the circumstances, but it is hard to prove that intent,” he said.
Defense attorney Richard Brzeczek — a former Chicago police superintendent — was tight-lipped with reporters after the verdict. His client still faces between three and 14 years in prison for the aggravated battery conviction, and has pending cocaine possession charges in Cook County.
Wojtkielewicz remains in Kane County jail. He is to be sentenced Nov. 22 on the Kane County charge.
The incident began in Chicago after a police informant told an undercover officer that an SUV traveling near Diversey and Central avenues had 2.5 to 3 kilograms of cocaine — and possibly a gun — in it.
The officer passed that information on to other officers and followed the vehicle until three officers — in plainclothes and in an unmarked squad car, but wearing their Chicago police vests and badges — began following it.
Officers pulled the SUV over, but then Wojtkielewicz took off and led officers on a slow-speed chase through residential streets on Chicago’s Northwest Side before pulling onto Interstate 90 and speeding away, police said.
Officers were peppered with bags of a white, powdery substance as Wojtkielewicz’s SUV reached speeds of 100 mph, according to testimony in the six-day trial.
Police ended up collecting 53 grams of cocaine from Interstate 90, as well as “skid marks” of cocaine that another officer picked up from the roadway using fingerprint tape, Stajdohar said.
Wojtkielewicz pulled over in the right I-Pass lanes at the Elgin Toll Plaza, where the shooting occurred.
(The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.)