Police involved in high-speed chase will not be charged

Corryn Brock, Editor-in-Chief

State’s Attorney Jesse Danley said the police involved in a high-speed chase that resulted in a wreck fatality and multiple injuries on Sept. 19 will not be charged with anything involving the wreck.

Danley said after reviewing footage from dash cameras, body cameras and local business’ security cameras, the statements of officers involved and the remainder of the case,  he felt the officers used the appropriate amount of force.

“I think officers acted appropriately,” Danley said. “You know, it’s just it’s very, very, very quick response… I think they were cognizant of pedestrian and traffic density at all time,” Danley said. “I watched the videos very closely, I didn’t find that they endangered anyone’s lives by pursuing a vehicle.”

Danley said he looked at all of the officers involved and was not focused on any one officer when reviewing the case.

“I looked to make sure everyone was appropriately doing their job and not risking the safety and well-being of the community any more than they had to,” Danley said.

The Illinois State Police investigated the wreck and the events leading up to it and Danley used their investigation in his determinations of whether there was anything criminal or improper was done by the officers involved.

David Catlin, Illinois State Police Freedom of Information Act Officer, said the type of investigation performed by his agency was a “public integrity investigation.” In public integrity investigations, the Illinois State Police “do a police investigation to determine if criminal charges are needed against the police department,” according to Catlin.

Scanner audio from the day of the wreck shed some light on it and what led up to it.

Dispatchers with the Coles-Moultrie County Emergency Communications first received a call reporting an erratic driver, later identified as Cordell Carter, on Sept. 19 at 4:47 p.m.

The caller said the driver of the vehicle was speeding and nearly caused several wrecks.

Mattoon police responded to the area where they discovered the vehicle and began a pursuit. Less than a minute later, MPD officers called off the pursuit because there was “too much traffic.”

The driver then went in the direction of Charleston. Once in Charleston, Charleston police began pursuing the vehicle as it made its way down Reynolds Drive, past Carl Sandburg Elementary School, southbound onto Lovers Lane, then northbound onto Courtland Drive and Seneca Drive, all residential areas, at a high speed.

The driver then turned onto University Drive and drove north towards Lincoln Avenue where he drove through a red light, according to Danley. Immediately following, the wreck took place.

Following the wreck, dispatchers informed received a call saying an individual who lived on Cortland Drive had seen the driver throw a bottle of alcohol out of his vehicle, which landed in their yard.

In a Freedom of Information Act request, The Daily Eastern News requested dash camera footage from the Mattoon Police Department and Charleston Police Department from the vehicles involved in the chase on Sept. 19. Both requests were denied.

Appeals of the denials were made to the departments on Oct. 4.

The News was informed that the Illinois State Police were investigating the matter and The News FOIA’d the agency on Oct. 4. The request was denied Oct. 13 and an appeal was made with the Public Access Counselor at the Office of the Attorney General.

On Tuesday, Catlin stated that the information requested will now be available for FOIA requests and that The News will be receiving the requested information in the near future.

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].