Former Chicago police Officer Joseph Battaglia, age 54, of southwest suburban Oak Lawn, was charged Sunday with two counts of disorderly conduct after threats were made to harm two key officials investigating the death of Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, officials said.
Battaglia allegedly threatened to harm Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd and Lake County Major Crime Task Force Commander George Filenko unless they declare Gliniewicz’s death a suicide.
The strange twist in events after the death of Gliniewicz occured as police have not ruled out the shooting death of Fox Lake Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz as a possible suicide. Detective Christopher Covelli of the Lake County sheriff’s office, repeated Monday that authorities are still looking at the police officer’s death as a homicide.
Covelli said the Lake County Major Crime Task Force continued Monday to follow up on leads as they await the results of DNA, gunshot residue and ballistic tests being conducted at local, state and federal laboratories.
Gliniewicz, a 30-year police veteran, died Sept. 1 after telling a police dispatcher that he was going to pursue three subjects: two white males and a black male.
He sounded very calm, but his voice didn’t sound like the voices of many police officers in foot pursuits — when police officers are out of breath from running and rushing to give out the direction of travel of fleeing suspects while running. In fact, he initially denied a suggestion for a backup. Then calmly asked for backup.
After backup police officers found his squad car with no sign of him around, police attempted to raise him on the radio and call his cell phone. There was no reply on the radio, and no answer on his cell phone.
Responding officers found him shot to death in a remote, marshy area. Police recovered his .40-caliber service weapon nearby. Police on the scene initially broadcast that the weapon and his pepper spray had been taken by the offenders. That was later reported to be false by Filenko — well actually he told journalists they better check their sources on that information.
Police have still not released whether the weapon was found underneath Gliniewicz, or next to him, or if the gun appeared to be tossed nearby.
Police have also not released whether the officer was killed by shots from his own gun.
Last week, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd hoped to review results from tests of DNA found beneath Gliniewicz’s fingernails, as well as any gunshot residue on his body.
Police have said Gliniewicz died of a single devastating gunshot wound to his torso.
Rudd, who has declined to say if the officer sustained other wounds, had been criticized by the Lake County Task Force for releasing previous information about the wound and the fact that suicide was not ruled out, without consulting the Task Force.
Police have gradually released details, such as the release of information that multiple gunshots were fired at the scene. However, police gave no details as to what gun was fired or how many shots were fired
Ballistic tests would hopefully confirm whether the fatal wound was caused by Gliniewicz’s gun found at the scene.
Meanwhile, Lake County Sheriff’s Office in a press release Sunday said that someone called the coroner’s office at 2 p.m. Friday, blocking the phone number so caller identification would not work. The caller said he was a “retired police officer” and made threats against “all of the Task Force members” and others investigating Gliniewicz’s death unless that death was declared a suicide.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office release also reported that Battaglia had made phone calls to other police agencies and to media outlets, but the details of the calls were not released.
Judge Veronica O’Malley ordered Battaglia to surrender any firearms and his firearm owner’s identification (FOID card), and to have no contact, directly or indirectly, with Lake County officials in the coroner’s office, as well as Filenko. The ban includes communication via social media.
Battaglia stated he had no money for bond and remained in jail until today when he secured $10,000 for his release on $100,000 bond.
A conviction on a charge of felony disorderly conduct carries a maximum penalty of three years in state prison, said Battaglia’s attorney Myron Goldstin. Battaglia’s next hearing is scheduled for October 6, 2015.
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