A St. Clair County judge on Monday found Illinois State Police Trooper Corey Alberson guilty of misdemeanor aggravated assault in connection with a strip search of a driver on the side of an East St. Louis street.
Circuit Judge Jan Fiss entered the verdict on Monday finding Alberson guilty of aggravated assault, a misdemeanor, but not of the original charge of aggravated battery, a felony.
The verdict followed a two-day bench trial in front of Fiss earlier this month.
“This is not a case of some outside group being against the police or an officer ever being in danger. This is a case of the men and women of the Illinois State Police doing their job, standing up for the integrity of their profession and protecting the fragile trust they have built over the years with the citizens they serve,” said St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly.
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He added, “When a citizen resists the police or attacks the police, we take action and when the police bring us evidence of one of their officers crossing the line we must also take action. Sometimes the police show great courage by risking their lives and sometimes they show great courage by doing the right thing and policing one of their own. In both cases, they deserve our respect.”
Prosecutors called Alberson a “bully with a badge” who stopped Anthony Campbell on Jan. 21, 2012, for an unspecified traffic infraction on North Ninth Street in East St. Louis. Prosecutors say Alberson had Campbell undo his pants and then used a flashlight to visually examine Campbell’s buttocks and testicles of Campbell.
Defense attorney John O’Gara argued that Alberson received a tip from a drug informant that a black man named Tony was driving a white sedan and bringing a large amount of crack cocaine from north St. Louis to East St. Louis to restock now-convicted drug dealer Willie “Woo Woo” Butler. Alberson stopped Campbell, who is black, in hope of intercepting drugs, O’Gara said.
The state issued proposed orders for both the felony aggravated battery and the lesser offense of aggravated assault, Kelly said.
The elements of the misdemeanor charge of aggravated assault were not brought up during trial. O’Gara said they only learned about the misdemeanor when the orders were sent to the judge.
“We only learned they were seeking a verdict on the aggravated assault when the orders were submitted,” O’Gara said. “We did not have a chance to address this during trial.”
During the trial, a video from Alberson’s dash-mounted camera was shown. The video depicted Alberson pulling down Campbell’s pants and shining a flashlight down the front and then the back.
“ ... (Alberson) clearly gestures in a commanding manner to Mr. Campbell and only then does Mr. Campbell open his belt and the front of his pants,” Fiss wrote in his verdict. “The court finds Mr. Campbell’s testimony that he did not give (Alberson) permission or consent to search his person to be credible.”
Fiss also found that there was no officer safety issue at the time the search was conducted.
Campbell testified that he felt “disrespected and insulted,” but never complained about the search. The search came to light when ISP Major Christopher Trame did a routine review of the dash-cam videos and discovered it. Trame testified that he was “shocked” by what he saw. Trame made a complaint.
Alberson has been on leave since he was charged with the felony. According to the state comptroller, Alberson has not received pay since June 2014.
Illinois State Police spokesman Matthew Boerwinkle confirmed Alberson is suspended without pay, adding the state police could not comment on pending litigation.
When reached by phone afterward and asked about the verdict, Anthony Campbell said, “I feel it was fair.”
Alberson is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 22 before Fiss.