Micah Delrosario, a 35-year-old Addison man shot by a Forest Park police detective during a manhunt following a shoplifting incident at Walmart in October 2016, was found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault and retail theft during a bench trial at the Maybrook courthouse on Feb. 13.
Judge Pamela Leeming handed down her ruling after a roughly four-hour trial that featured testimony by two Forest Park police officers and an auxiliary police officer, a Cook County Forest Preserve District detective and a former Walmart security agent.
Leeming found Delrosario not guilty of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, which was the most serious charge against him and could have resulted in a prison sentence of up to five years.
Delrosario, who was represented by Public Defender Daniel Walsh, did not testify and sat impassively during the proceedings.
Sentencing will take place on March 15. Delrosario faces up to three years in prison for aggravated assault convictions, both Class 4 felonies. He has been held at Cook County Jail for roughly the past 16 months while awaiting trial.
Leeming agreed with prosecutors Lauretta Froelich and Barbara Bailey that Delrosario escalated what was initially a routine shoplifting offense, when he refused to stop for store security and police, fleeing on foot from Walmart through the Jewish Waldheim Cemetery and then crossing the Des Plaines River into Miller Meadows to elude capture.
"He had been evading police," Bailey told the judge. "[Delrosario] did everything to escalate the action."
On the afternoon of Oct. 20, 2016, at least 20 police officers descended on Miller Meadows, a Cook County forest preserve, to search for Delrosario who headed south toward Cermak Road.
As Delrosario approached the south end of the forest preserve, police spotted him and gave chase as he fled back east toward the river, through thick brush and forest.
Trapped in a small clearing at the southeast corner of the forest preserve just north of Cermak Road, Delrosario waded back into the river and then pulled out a small folding utility knife, holding the blade to his throat.
Police eventually coaxed him out of the river, but Delrosario continued to hold the knife to his throat despite repeated commands by police to drop it. At one point, according to the testimony of Officer Scott McClintock and Detective Jarlath Heveran, Delrosario dropped him arm and pointed the blade of the knife at Heveran while advancing toward him.
In a report issued by Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit last year, neither Heveran nor McClintock in their statements to investigators alleged that Delrosario pointed knife in Heveran's direction. Delrosario's attorney didn't challenge the allegation in court.
Heveran fired one round at Delrosario after he refused to stop and drop the knife. The bullet struck Delrosario in the right hip. A short time later, Delrosario dropped the knife and was taken into custody without further incident.
Delrosario was taken to Loyola University Medical Center, where he was treated for the gunshot wound. He was released from the hospital into police custody two days later.
Delrosario's public defender, Walsh, argued that neither McClintock nor Heveran, who were closest to Delrosario at the scene, were in "reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery," but Judge Leeming rejected the argument.
"You have to look at the totality of the circumstances," Leeming said, adding that Delrosario ignored multiple orders to stop fleeing, ignored repeated orders to drop the knife and was in a crisis situation.
"I find the officers had a reasonable expectation of a battery," Leeming said.