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By Nona Tepper
Muffled audio from a controversial police stop reveals that a Chicago woman spit on Forest Park Police Officer Scott McClintock on April 13, causing him to respond "by instinct" and slap her, according to police reports and an audio recording of the incident.
Forest Park police have since launched an internal investigation of McClintock, who will continue to work while the probe is underway.
"This is Officer Scott McClintock attempting to stop a juvenile felony shoplifter," Deputy Chief Mike Keating says in an introduction of the audio recording. Keating recorded the audio from a squad car video taken at the scene. He said the approximately 6.5-minute audio recording represents the entire incident. The video does not capture the incident because the car was pointed a different direction, according to police.
The audio tape was released to the Review following a Freedom of Information Act request from the paper.
McClintock was sitting in his squad car at the CVS parking lot in Forest Park at about 1:10 p.m. on April 13 when he heard over dispatch about a theft at The Gap nearby in Oak Park, according to a Forest Park police report. He made his way over to the clothing store, where a Gap loss prevention associate waved him down, saying he saw the thief fleeing north on Harlem Avenue.
McClintock drove north and spotted the Chicago woman, 17, at the intersection of Harlem and Ontario avenues in Oak Park.
"Don't make me run after you," McClintock said in the audio. Instead, the woman picked up the pace.
McClintock grabbed the sleeve of her coat and attempted to pull her back to the sidewalk. She resisted, instructing McClintock to "watch out," and said, "I just gave that man his stuff so what you grabbing me for?"
McClintock leaned the woman against a short concrete wall and attempted to handcuff her.
"Don't you push me like that, what you doing?" the woman asked in the audio, saying: "Go get a female officer."
McClintock responds that he does not need a female officer. After handcuffing her, McClintock asked if she had anything else on her person. He saw a bulge in her jacket pocket and reached in, finding a cellphone.
The woman allegedly then spit on McClintock's face. The Review hears what sounds like spitting at the 1:56-minute mark.
"Don't you spit," McClintock said in the recording repeatedly.
A witness filmed the incident and posted a description of it on the nonprofit Suburban Unity Alliance Facebook page, where it received more than 75 reactions.
"The officer hit her in the face. Hard enough to make her fall [on] the ground," Laura Cochran Hyde posted on social media. "She started screaming and crying and he told her that she tried to spit in his face, which she denied." The Review cannot hear the woman deny spitting on McClintock in the muffled recording.
Cochran Hyde wrote online that she posted about the incident on social media "to bring awareness to the community." She did not respond to interview requests from the Review for this article.
"Why you just punch me in the face?" the woman asks in the recording, yelling frantically. "Let me go."
"I did crack her but it was instinct," McClintock says in the audio.
The woman was charged with retail theft and aggravated battery, according to an Oak Park police report. The Oak Park report also noted that, "when the Forest Park officer instructed the subject to stop, she spit on his right cheek."
Forest Park Police Chief Thomas Aftanas declined to comment on the ongoing internal investigation. He said it might take a little less than a month to complete.
"Before making a judgment, wait until more facts come out," he said to those who learned of the incident via social media. "An officer hitting someone, it concerns me, it would concern any citizen. If they report to the police that an officer hit a person, then it's a concern to the police and it's a concern to me also."
He declined to comment on whether McClintock's actions were appropriate, saying that he would wait until the investigation was complete. In response to a question about how an officer should respond after being spit on, Aftanas said "it all depends, there are too many variables."
This isn't the first time McClintock has made news.
Forest Park paid $54,900 to settle a federal lawsuit against McClintock and the village in November 2018. In the suit, Forest Park resident Tyrone Roney alleged that McClintock "physically attacked" and knocked his teeth out over a landlord dispute in 2015. The village and McClintock did not admit liability or wrongdoing, according to the terms of the settlement.