Brooklyn’s Police Department on Thursday afternoon was raided by state and county investigators as a letter from the county prosecutor surfaced stating that a former cop took an assault rifle from the evidence locker and posed with it for the department’s calendar.
Still missing are drugs and ammo seized with the gun.
Illinois State Police and St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department investigators on Wednesday afternoon raided the Brooklyn Police Department and seized items. Illinois State Police Capt. James Morrisey was on scene and would only say the raid was “in reference to some allegations received by Illinois State Police and the State’s Attorney’s office. No further information is available at this time.”
He referred comment to St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly. Kelly’s comment: “I have no comment at this time.”
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Also Thursday, Kelly responded to a Freedom of Information Act request and released a letter he had sent Wednesday to Brooklyn’s mayor stating his office would not prosecute cases handled by former detective Chris Heatherly. He cited credibility issues with Heatherly as either an investigator or a material witness.
Kelly would not comment on whether the raid and the issues with Heatherly were related.
According to the letter: “This month, Brooklyn Police Chief Steve Mitchell came to the State’s Attorney’s office and presented some concerns regarding then-Detective Christopher Heatherly’s actions as it relates to the chain of custody and evidence retention by the detective.”
Kelly wrote that Heatherly was a detective in charge of the evidence vault. He took out of evidence an AR-15 assault rifle, an illegal weapon seized as evidence in a pending criminal case. He bought a case and sling for the weapon and kept it in his car’s trunk.
Then while on duty, Heatherly posed with the rifle for the police department’s photo calendar, Kelly wrote.
The letter also said that “as of today’s date (Wednesday) the ammunition and suspected controlled substance also seized with this assault 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 known that his actions breached the integrity of the evidence in a criminal case. Mr. Heatherly’s choice to remove a rifle from evidence on a pending case constitutes a flagrant violation of fundamental police protocol and thus creates an irreparable credibility deficit,” Kelly wrote.
Mitchell would not comment, including on when or how Heatherly terminated employment. Brooklyn Mayor Vera Glasper-Banks could not be reached.
Village attorney Eric Evans, when asked about the situation in Brooklyn, said Illinois State Police are investigating allegations made against the Police Department. “The village and village authorities are cooperating,” he said.