A police evidence locker doesn't work like a public library. Obviously, right?
Yet it seems a former detective for the Brooklyn, Illinois police department thought it would be okay if he borrowed an AR-15 assault rifle to hold during a photo shoot for the department's calender, and now an Illinois State's Attorney says other evidence -- including drugs and ammo -- are still missing.
On Wednesday, Illinois State Police and St. Clair County Sheriff's Department investigators raided the offices of the Village of Brooklyn, which houses the town's police department and administrative offices. Officers carried out boxes of documents, computers, weapons and other equipment, according to a report from KMOV (Channel 4).
According to a March 24 letter (embedded below) sent to Brooklyn mayor Vera Glasper-Banks, St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly stated that his office would refuse to prosecute cases handled former detective Chris Heatherly. Kelly's letter accuses Heatherly, who oversaw the department's evidence vault, of compromising the criminal case attached to AR-15 rifle. From the letter:
- He kept this rifle in the trunk of his squad car in a case he had purchased for it.
- He attached his own sling to this assault rifle.
- While on duty he posed for a picture while holding this rifle, and the picture was used in a department calendar.
Further complicating matters, the ammo and a "suspected controlled substance" originally seized with the weapon have not been located.
"While it appears from the evidence available to my office at this time Mr. Heatherly had no criminal or malicious intent, I am struck by the fact that he is a veteran police officer who knew or should have know that his actions breached the integrity of the evidence in a criminal case," Kelly wrote in the letter, which was obtained by the Belleville News Democrat through a Freedom of Information Act request.
"Mr. Heatherly's choice to remove a rifle from evidence on a pending case constitutes a flagrant violation of fundamental police protocol," he added.
It's still unclear when or how Heatherly was terminated from the Brooklyn police force.
We reached out to the Brooklyn police department, and were directed to village attorney Eric Evans. Messages left with Evans' office were not immediately returned, but we'll update the story if and when we hear back.
Here's the letter St. Clair County State's Attorney Kelly sent to Brooklyn mayor Glasper-Banks on Tuesday: