Home / Articles / News / News / Fit for duty?
Print this Article
Wednesday, July 23, 2008 11:17 pm

Fit for duty?

Deputy accused of manhandling motorist subject of numerous complaints

Untitled Document John Gillette, the Sangamon County Sheriff’s deputy alleged to have manhandled a motorist who was having a kidney-stone attack, has apparently been the subject of at least 27 complaints and has been previously evaluated for his fitness for duty, according to court documents. The documents were entered in response to the motorist’s request for Gillette’s internal-investigation records, filed under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The motorist, dentist Mark Gekas, says that Gillette and two other officers shoved him into his truck, bent him over the seat and handcuffed him to the steering wheel as he was telling them he was in excruciating pain because of a kidney stone. X-rays taken later that day at the hospital showed that the encounter had left Gekas with two dislocated ribs. In an interview conducted about three months after the August 2006 incident, Gekas told Illinois Times that Gillette appeared uncontrollably angry, “red and rabid,” and offensively profane as he ordered Gekas to exit his vehicle. “I look at him, and I go, ‘You’re kidding!’” Gekas said. Gekas had apparently failed to use his turn signal while turning left from Wabash Avenue onto MacArthur Boulevard. A Jerome police officer had stopped Gekas, but Gekas explained that he was in the midst of a medical emergency and that his doctor had told him to drive straight to the hospital. The Jerome officer told Gekas to call an ambulance instead, but Gekas instead drove away. A few blocks farther north, at the intersection with Laurel Avenue, Gillette pulled his squad car in front of the dentist’s truck, and approached Gekas’ window with his gun drawn. “I wake up to that gun, looking down that gun barrel,” Gekas said. “It bothers you. You don’t think it does until you get it.”
Gekas filed a complaint against Gillette, but in November 2006, after an internal investigation involving “reports, dispatch tapes and interviewing 10 witnesses,” Chief Deputy Tony Sacco sent Gekas a letter telling him that Gillette had been exonerated. Gekas filed a FOIA request seeking access to his file, as well as any other internal investigations involving Gillette. That request was denied and appealed, eventually ending up in court, where Macoupin County Judge Kenneth Deihl last month ordered the SCSO to turn over four of Gillette’s 27 IA investigations.
Rob Power, the assistant state’s attorney representing the sheriff’s department, filed a motion asking Deihl to clarify “the reason that four case files are not protected by FOIA exemptions when 23 are.”
Attached to his motion was a letter from Lt. Debra Brown to Powers, explaining her efforts to gather all Gillette files. In two instances, she discovered that an investigation into one complaint led to the discovery of other violations. One such record wasn’t found in the IA office but rather in a file in Sacco’s office containing a March 2000 investigation into Gillette’s “fitness for duty.”
Sacco declined to comment on this particular case, but says such evaluations are typically ordered whenever an employee’s behavior “raises a red flag for us.” Sacco listed personal problems, divorce, or a “series of complaints” as examples of such red flags. The evaluation begins with an appointment with a psychologist or psychiatrist, and may result in a modification of the employee’s duties, a referral to the employee assistance program, or disciplinary action, Sacco said.
Contact Dusty Rhodes at drhodes@illinoistimes.com.
Log in to use your Facebook account with
IllinoisTimes

Login With Facebook Account



Recent Activity on IllinoisTimes

Calendar

  • Fri
    18
  • Sat
    19
  • Sun
    20
  • Mon
    21
  • Tue
    22
  • Wed
    23
  • Thu
    24