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Thursday, June 20, 2019 12:06 am

Victim in cop fight unavailable

 Unable to produce a victim, Sangamon County prosecutors last week won a continuance in the trial of Samuel Rosario, a former Springfield police officer charged with fighting a youth while on duty in 2017.

The trial had been set for June 17. The hearing at which prosecutors won a delay last week wasn’t scheduled or otherwise posted on the docket in advance, and so the public had no way of knowing about the proceeding until it was over. However, multiple sources say that Sangamon County Circuit Court John Madonia granted the delay after the prosecution said it hasn’t been able to get Robert Humes, who engaged in fisticuffs with Rosario more than two years ago, to return to Springfield to testify.

Humes reportedly has moved to Kansas, and prosecutors, sources say, may serve him with a subpoena or file a court motion in Kansas to compel his testimony in Rosario’s trial. State’s attorney Dan Wright declined comment, other than to confirm a new trial date has been set for Aug. 9.

John Milhiser, Wright’s predecessor, had considered moving the case from the regular criminal docket to veterans court, a venue aimed at adjudicating cases against veterans accused of crimes so that any conviction can be expunged. Wright, who became state’s attorney last year after Milhiser became U.S. attorney, is pushing for convictions that will stick. Rosario is charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery and one count of official misconduct, a felony.

Rosario was fired after the altercation that was caught on body cameras worn by himself and a fellow officer. The officer challenged Humes to a fight after a series of insults and expletives from both sides that began when police were called to an east side address to investigate a property damage report. When Rosario returned to the home and apologized, with body camera still on, Humes said there was no need. “No, no, it’s cool,” he said. Either Humes or someone else, it’s not clear from footage, told the officer that he would always have respect in the neighborhood. Both interactions have been viewed more than one million times on YouTube. When police supervisors visited without Rosario, Humes told them that the officer deserved a promotion.

Humes was less praiseworthy when interviewed by Illinois Times three weeks after the fistfight, but he didn’t seem angry at Rosario. “Life is life,” he said then. “He’s guilty of whatever he’s guilty of. That’s not for me to decide.” He didn’t sound eager two years ago when asked if he’d take the witness stand.

“If I had to, yeah,” he said.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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