EIU Swimmer Mistakenly Taken Down By Police in 2019; ACLU Files Suit

Illinois police mistakenly took down college swimmer Jaylan Butler at gunpoint on a team trip home from a 2019 conference meet, a local newspaper reports. That led to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU.

The Dispatch / The Rock Island Argus reports that the Eastern Illinois University swimming & diving team were returning home on a team bus from the 2019 Summit League Championships on February 24, 2019. The meet had taken place in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Just inside the Illinois border, the bus stopped at a rest area and the swimmers got out to stretch their legs.

The Dispatch reports that a coach suggested Butler take a selfie in front of a “Buckle up, it’s the law” sign, in the vein of photos team members had been taking and posting to social media throughout the trip. Butler was wearing his EIU team jacket and taking the photo when he says a line of police cars “came to a screeching stop in front of me.”

Per The Dispatch story: “As a young black man, [Butler] had been taught by his dad to never give police a reason to think he would cause trouble. He remembered the lessons, and he dropped his phone, raised his hands, and got on the ground.”

The team’s bus driver, Todd Slingerland, says he jumped out of the bus when he saw cops arrive, and got out to find two officers holding Butler on the ground with his face pressed into the snow. Slingerland says one cop was pointing a rifle and the other had a gun pointed at Butler’s head saying “If you move, I’ll blow your [expletive] head off.”

The ACLU’s lawsuit says that the officers quickly realized Butler was not the suspect they were looking for. But instead of releasing him, the suit says, the officers refused to uncuff him and told him they were arresting him for resisting arrest. Officers searched his coat pockets and left him in the back of a squad car, eventually releasing him and telling him to get his ID off of the team bus, which had the school’s logo plastered on the sides, per The Dispatch.

Butler says he asked for the badge number of the officer who threatened to kill him, and informed the police that he wanted to file a complaint. But he says the officers ignored him and refused to give him names, badge numbers or affiliations. Making matters more confusing, according to The Dispatch, there were officers present at the rest area from at least three different groups: the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department, the East Moline Police Department and the Hampton Police Department.

The ACLU lawsuit was filed against six officers, including two who are yet unnamed.

It’s also unclear who the police were looking for that night. The Dispatch reports that the Rock Island County State Attorney said officers were “called in to assist on a Henry County incident.” Henry County told The Dispatch that it had been asked by state police to assist in pursuing a man in a vehicle who shot at a truck on the interstate. That suspected vehicle had gone into Rock Island County and wrecked.

Butler is a sophomore on the EIU swim team from St. Louis, Missouri. His best finish at last year’s Summit League Championships was 20th place in the 100 back in a time of 54.58.

23
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
23 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
USAUSAUSA
1 year ago

Yikes. Poor kid.

scoobysnak
1 year ago

“To serve and protect” 🙄

Swimmy swim
1 year ago

There is no reason cops should be so stubborn about giving their information if they weren’t doing any wrong

sven
1 year ago

Unbelievable. Reading the linked piece gives a bit more information and makes my blood absolutely boil. Hope this kid takes them to the cleaners and that the officers face serious professional repercussions. They are clearly not cut out for the job.

Anonymoose
Reply to  sven
1 year ago

I can’t open the link, anybody else have that problem?

swammer-parent
Reply to  Anonymoose
1 year ago

Just check the Washington Post, etc. National attention now. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/02/15/jaylan-butler-aclu-lawsuit/#comments-wrapper

ALEXANDER POP-OFF
1 year ago

Horrible horrible horrible. Every last one if them should be fired.

Sam
1 year ago

good time to give money to the ACLU

Lpman
1 year ago

I wonder how much publicity this would get if the swimmer was white

tswim
Reply to  Lpman
1 year ago

Maybe you should wonder if the swimmer would’ve gone through this experience if he were white…

AfterShock
Reply to  tswim
1 year ago

He apparently never heard of selfieing while black.

coachymccoachface
Reply to  tswim
1 year ago

Short answer, no. Long answer, noooooooooooo

SwimMom
Reply to  Lpman
1 year ago

White privilege speaking in this comment…

sscommentor
Reply to  Lpman
1 year ago

this comment is so wildly insensitive, callous, and unaware. It’s sickening that a person would be this confident and flat-out-dumb to say something like this in an open forum.

SwimMom
Reply to  sscommentor
1 year ago

Nice to see those without race sensitivity are downvoting.

AfterShock
1 year ago

I have to side with law enforcement on this one. It’s very easy to mistake a sign that reads rest area for an arrest area.

And kudos to the fine folks of the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department, the East Moline Police Department and the Hampton Police Department for reading to Jaylan their Illinois state miranda rights to blow his effing head off.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

Read More »