Cook County Forest Preserve Police Officer Resigns After Controversy Over His Response to Woman’s Request for Protection from Harasser

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The Cook County Forest Preserve Police Officer, who was accused of inaction while a woman was harassed for wearing a shirt with the Puerto Rico flag, resigned Wednesday night.

Cook County Forest Preserve Police Officer Patrick O’Connor has resigned the day before a disciplinary hearing was scheduled to evaluate his performance during an incident that occurred in the Caldwell Forest Preserve in northwest Chicago near Niles.

A video posted to social media shows 62-year-old Timothy Trybus harassing Mia Irizarry on June 14, 2018 as she was setting up for a birthday party in a reserved gazebo in Caldwell Woods on Chicago’s Northwest Side. Trybus, who appeared to be intoxicated, apparently harassed Irizarry because she was wearing the Puerto Rico T-shirt.

Cook County Forest Preserve Police Officer Patrick O’Connor was accused of failing to act to stop the harassment that was ongoing while he was standing nearby. The controversy went global when Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello commented about the incident on his official Twitter account.

Police officers failing to act has been documented, especially since about 2015, and has been dubbed the ‘Ferguson Effect’ where police officers fear getting drawn into a similar fate of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who eventually used a firearm to shoot and kill Michael Brown on August 9, 2014. The action resulted in riots in Ferguson, and became one of a series of claims of unjust behavior by police against black males.

Following Ferguson, we have seen incidents in which an officer failed to use justifiable force when deadly force was precisely what was required at the time. Some officers are more afraid of being labeled a fascist or a racist than they are of dying at the hands of an assailant. Some are more afraid of becoming the next YouTube sensation. Some are afraid of a lawsuit. We have taken to calling this ‘deadly hesitation’ — cops failing to save themselves from potentially fatal injuries because they fear the aftermath of a deadly force encounter more than they do the incident itself.

— Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Senior Contributor

It is unknown if the police department has a policy to wait for back-up if there is no impending violence or violence in progress. However, Cook County Forest Preserve Police Chief Kelvin Pope says Forest Preserve Officer Patrick O’Connor should have taken action. Although there will be no disciplinary hearing since O’Connor resigned, CBS Chicago reporter Dana Kozlov reports that Forest Preserve District of Cook County Superintendent Arnold Randall will discuss the matter more on Thursday, July 12, 2018.

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Cook County Forest Preserve Police Officer Accused of Failing to Act As Man Harasses Woman For Wearing Puerto Rico Shirt

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