Dash-cam of East St. Louis strip search leads to state trooper conviction
Three Illinois State Police troopers cannot be witnesses in St. Clair County criminal courtrooms because of prosecutors’ concerns about their “credibility issues,” but two of the three continue to collect state paychecks.
Troopers Brad Wilken, Christopher Currier and Corey Alberson can no longer be called as prosecution witness in criminal cases, but Currier and Wilken continue to collect their paychecks.
Alberson, who was convicted of misdemeanor aggravated assault in connection with the strip-search of a motorist, remains on unpaid leave. Currier is accused of trying to help Alberson cover it up.
In letters to State Police Director Hiram Grau, obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly stated that repeated violations of regulations and unprofessionalism created a “credibility deficit” for the troopers. Kelly wrote that their conduct would require his office to disclose the issues to defense attorneys in every case where the troopers were to testify.
“Judges and juries know officers work very hard and they don’t expect them to be saints, but they do expect a high degree of good judgment for their testimony to be credible and trustable,” Kelly said. “It can hurt cases and hurt the overwheming majority of officers that do the right thing.”
Judges and juries know officers work very hard and they don’t expect them to be saints, but they do expect a high degree of good judgment for their testimony to be credible and trustable. It can hurt cases and hurt the overwheming majority of officers that do the right thing.
Brendan Kelly, St. Clair County state’s attorney
In Currier’s case, Kelly wrote on July 16, 2014, that Currier repeatedly violated ISP regulations, including a failure to arrest a drunken driver whose car nearly struck Currier’s squad car, drove the wrong way on Kingshighway in Washington Park and blew a 0.162 percent and 0.142 percent during a roadside blood-alcohol test. The driver had two previous convictions for driving under the influence.
“Currier did not write a DUI ticket or make an arrest involving a case which appeared to be a reckless homicide waiting to happen,” Kelly wrote.
When Currier called dispatch, Kelly said, the trooper told them the car needed to be towed because of mechanical problems. He gave the driver a citation for improper lane usage, then released him.
“Currier’s connection to this driver, if any, and reason for his actions remain unknown,” Kelly wrote.
Currier did not write a DUI ticket or make an arrest involving a case which appeared to be a reckless homicide waiting to happen.
Brendan Kelly, St. Clair County state’s attorney
In another incident, Currier was captured on in-squad video telling a driver that “he (was) lucky he did not get a gun screwed to his head” after the motorist did not stop his car as instructed, Kelly said.
Currier was riding with Alberson on Jan. 21, 2012, when they pulled over Anthony Campbell for an unspecified traffic infraction on North Ninth Street in East St. Louis. Prosecutors said Alberson ordered Campbell to undo his pants, then used a flashlight to visually examine Campbell’s buttocks and testicles. Alberson was charged with felony aggravated battery and a misdemeanor count of aggravated assault. He received a sentence of court supervision.
During the September trial, Currier testified for Alberson, who was later convicted of the misdemeanor. Alberson was sentenced to a year of probation. State Police are pursuing the firing of Alberson, who has been on unpaid leave since he was charged in April 2014, but that hasn’t yet happened.
Currier remains on the payroll, earning $74,427 last year. His most recent paycheck was issued Friday, according to the state comptroller’s office.
In the July 21 letter regarding Alberson, Kelly stated an in-dash video also captured Alberson recovering crack cocaine during a traffic stop. Alberson later denied to a supervisor that he found crack, even though the car’s occupants admitted to investigators that they just bought crack and put it in a cigarette pack that Alberson can be seen examining in the video.
Kelly also stated that Currier and Alberson discussed on state emails crafting a story to justify the traffic stop that led to the strip search of Campbell.
The third trooper was cited with credibility issues in a letter written July 8, 2014. Kelly stated that Wilken stopped a student for speeding. The student later reported that Wilken cursed at him, then grabbed him around the neck. The letter goes on to say that Wilken has a history of anger-management issues, has been disciplined for an aggressive outburst in the Ozarks against a water patrol officer, and purposely shot in the direction of minors playing the role of hostages in a simulation exercise in Springfield.
Just two days after Wilken’s letter was issued, Wilken’s wife, Victoria Castillo Wilken, who was working as a guard at Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center, was charged with having sex with a male inmate and official misconduct. Prosecutors said Castillo Wilken provided toothbrushes, mouthwash, toothpaste, dental floss and food to an inmate, whom she engaged in sex with between March 2 and May 17. She pleaded guilty to official misconduct.
Brad Wilken, who earned $84,278 last year, remains employed by the State Police. His most recent paycheck was issued Friday.