At an Oct. 13 village council meeting, the council voted unanimously to hire R. E. Walsh and Associates, an Oakbrook-based investigative agency formed by three former FBI agents, to investigate Forest Park Police Department involvement in the Aug. 23 death of 27-year-old Dajuan Gates. Gates died at Rush Oak Park hospital after being arrested by Forest Park police. Autopsy results are pending.
The family of Gates hired attorneys Philip Terrazzino, of the Chicago law firm Tomasik, Kotin, Kasserman, LLC, and S. Lee Merritt from McEldrew, Young, Purtell, Merritt.
On Aug. 22, Gates ran a stop sign in Forest Park and police attempted to stop him. He ran another stop sign, then vacated the car and fled on foot into Oak Park, where he was stopped by Oak Park police, who turned him over to Forest Park police at the corner of Madison Street and Maple Avenue, just outside the Rush Oak Park Hospital emergency room.
Gates showed signs of a possible drug overdose and was given NARCAN by the police before an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital, where he died the next day.
“We want to remove any doubt about potential police officer misconduct,” Gillian said. He added that the investigation will “provide the village administrator with related reports, conclusions, consultation and/or advice as to whether the police department policies, general orders and/or standard operating procedures were appropriate and whether discipline is recommended.”
He told the village council that he would provide them with regular updates on fees related to the investigation but was reluctant to put a cap on the cost since the firm “doesn’t know exactly where this investigation will lead them before it really gets started.”
According to Gillian, generally the deputy chief performs investigations into potential police misconduct. However, in bigger cases, the village hires an outside firm to do the investigation.
Gillian referenced the case of Roberto Salas, a 20-year veteran of the Forest Park Police Department, who was accused of raping a woman inside her home in 2016. She was eventually paid $191,000: $100,000 from the village; $85,000 from the village’s insurer; and $6,000 from the village out of funds that were to be paid to Salas in sick leave owed to him. Salas was initially fired in 2016, but later was hired back and retired from the force after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, based on an investigation by the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force, said it “found no conduct by the officer which would give rise to criminal charges.”
In that case, said Gillian, the village hired an outside investigative firm to examine all the evidence.
The Illinois State Police Integrity Task Force is also conducting an investigation into the Dajuan Gates case, at the request of the village of Forest Park.