This week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker called for a ‘thorough and transparent’ investigation into allegations that police held an Eastern Illinois University swimmer at gunpoint after mistakenly identifying him as a suspect.
From our previous reporting:
The situation took place back in February of 2019, when the EIU swimming & diving team was returning from the Summit League Championships in South Dakota. According to a report by The Dispatch / The Rock Island Argus, the team stopped just inside the Illinois border to stretch their legs. Freshman Jaylan Butler was stopped by police, the report says, who forced him to lie down and handcuffed him. The report said one officer allegedly pointed a gun against Butler’s head and threatened to blow his head off.
Butler, represented by the ACLU, filed suit against the officers. Now Governor Pritzker has called for a full investigation into the incident in a statement:
“I’m deeply troubled by what I’ve read about how Jaylan Butler, an African-American athlete at EIU, was mistreated by law enforcement in East Moline,” Pritzker’s statement reads. “It’s unacceptable for any young person to feel unsafe and disrespected anywhere in this state – but every day, too many young people of color live through it. I urge a thorough and transparent investigation of what took place.”
USA Today reports some new details about the case. Butler identified police officers from the Hampton and East Moline police departments, along with the Rock Island Sheriff’s Department. Rock Island Sherrif Gerald Bustos released a statement saying he was “confident” that the allegations against his deputies are “without merit.” East Malone Police Chief Jeff Ramsey said an officer was searching for an armed suspect that night – a suspect who shot at a car on the interstate, crashed, and fled on foot near where the swim team’s bus had stopped. Ramsey said Butler’s suit “portrays a version of events that is inconsistent with the version we have uncovered in our initial review.” Hampton Police Chief Terry Engle hasn’t commented yet, per USA Today‘s report.