CHICAGO (CBS/CNN) — Criticism is building against a Cook County Forest preserve police officer who was placed on desk duty after a video showed him doing nothing while a man harassed a woman for wearing a shirt with the Puerto Rican flag.
“You’re not American, if you were American you wouldn’t wear that. You know that right?” says the man, who appears to be intoxicated. The video, posted on Facebook, has been viewed more than 1.2 million times.
Cook County Board Chairman Toni Preckwinkle said she learned about the incident last night. She said today she spoke with Puerto Rico’s governor about the incident.
Preckwinkle said she assured Nevares the officer’s actions don’t reflect Cook County’s values.
“The incident … is completely unacceptable,” Preckwinkle said. “I apologize to the young woman who had this terrible experience. I am troubled by the response of the initial officer on the scene.”
Mia Irizarry says she was trying to celebrate her 24th birthday last month when the man approached her asking her why she was wearing the sleeveless Puerto Rico flag shirt, which also had “Puerto Rico” written below the V neckline.
Irizarry recorded the encounter on her phone, saying she felt threatened, and posted the video to Facebook.
For several minutes the man berates Irizarry and at one point stands a few inches from her. In the background, a police officer is standing outside the park pavilion. CBS correspondent David Begnaud reports the officer is Patrick Conner.
On Monday, the Forest Preserve tweeted that it was aware of the June 14 incident at an undisclosed park location and video.
The video also drawn sharp criticism from 4th District Rep. Luis Gutierrez. The Puerto Rican legislator released a statement Tuesday afternoon calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the incident.
“Because of the seriousness of the encounter, the fact that it targeted the Puerto Rican community in and around my District, and the growing number of anti-Latino and anti-immigrant hate crimes being reported, I demand the Civil Rights Division investigate to see if federal civil rights charges are warranted,” the statement read.
In the footage, the man–identified as 62-year-old Timothy Trybus–can be seen approaching Irizarry saying: “You should not be wearing that in the United States of America.” He gets closer to her and asks “Are you a citizen? Are you a United States citizen?”
Irizarry can be heard saying that Puerto Rico is part of the United States and Trybus approaches her multiple times.
Irizarry asks a park police officer to help, saying “I am renting this area and he’s harassing me about the shirt that I’m wearing.”
Later she says: “Officer, I feel entirely uncomfortable, can you remove … please officer” as the officer is seen walking away from her.
Then she says: “Officer, I’m renting, I paid for a permit for this area. I do not feel comfortable with him here, is there anything you can do? ”
The officer can then be seen talking to Trybus, who gesticulates back and tells him to “shut the f*** up.”
Later, more police arrive and Irizarry says she still doesn’t feel safe. Trybus resumes his abuse, saying: “You’re not American, if you were American you wouldn’t wear that. You know that right?”
The female officer asked to see the man’s ID and can be heard telling him that he’s intoxicated, to which he replies “well that’s your judgment.” She explains that Irizarry has a permit and she warns him that he could be arrested “for not being compliant.”
“You don’t come here harassing people,” the officer continues. “People have just as much right to be here as you and when you’re drunk, you don’t belong here.”
The female officer then speaks with Irizarry who gives her version of the incident and the officer explains that they were called to the area after a report that a man was choking a woman.
Eventually the first officer on the scene takes notes of Irizarry’s account of the incident and says that he was at the scene due to the separate incident, noting that she was not being attacked though acknowledging she felt threatened.
Irizarry can be heard explaining to the officer that the incident began when they had asked the group Trybus was with if they could move because they had a permit for the area. She said the group politely complied, but her Puerto Rico shirt appeared to act as a trigger Trybus.
He was charged with simple battery, according to an arrest report released Tuesday.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello reacted to the video on Twitter.
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