St. Clair County prosecutors have tossed out at least 21 criminal cases investigated by the Brooklyn Police Department, which is embroiled in a controversy involving the towing of vehicles.
The cases consist of a variety of charges, including possession of drugs, aggravated fleeing and eluding police, traffic charges and weapon-possession charges. This latest action against the Brooklyn Police Department comes following the resignation of its chief, Steve Mitchell, the termination of two police officers, Christopher Heatherly and Dean Anderson, and the raiding of the department by Illinois State Police and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.
St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brenden Kelly declined comment on why the 21 cases were dismissed. He also declined comment on whether additional cases would be dismissed.
Kelly has sent a letter to Brooklyn Mayor Vera Glasper-Banks saying Brooklyn police felt pressured to tow vehicles to generate revenue, so they would be ensured of getting paid. The letter said the vehicles were being towed by Classic Auto Body, a Swansea business owned by Michael W. Anderson, the uncle of Dean Anderson, the former officer.
Michael Anderson said he was not towing for Brooklyn when his nephew was hired. Michael Anderson also said he didn’t see a conflict in the situation because he said Brooklyn has another towing company that it has used for 30 years.
Two more unnamed Brooklyn police officers have submitted their resignations. This was confirmed by village attorney Eric Evans. Now, Brooklyn only has four officers left on its payroll. But St. Clair County Sheriff Richard Watson said he has assigned some patrol cars to help out until Brooklyn can hire some more officers. “We are going to make sure the citizens of Brooklyn are safe,” Watson said.
Kelly’s letter reminded Glasper-Banks that Brooklyn is one of the four metro-east police departments that fall under the authority of the Metro East Police District Commission. As such, village police signed a policy to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest, to avoid jeopardizing the prosecution of cases.
Dean Anderson was recently charged with two felony offenses, including aggravated battery, for allegedly pushing a minor out of a chair at the Juvenile Transition Center in Centreville.
Kelly’s letter told Glasper-Banks that the village’s towing practices may lead to problems with Brooklyn’s criminal cases.