Illinois State Police still are investigating a retired Moline police captain's role in a shooting last week.
For the third time that we know of, the conduct of Jerome Patrick is under scrutiny.
Details have been characteristically lean, given the ongoing investigation. But we've sorted out a few things about the case against Patrick, who retired in 2016.
We know Patrick, 56, faces multiple felony charges — two counts each of aggravated discharge of a firearm and aggravated assault. He is accused of firing a gun at two people from his Mercedes-Benz convertible on Thursday, Sept. 12. He was arrested in Davenport the day after the shooting and spent just shy of 20 hours in the Scott County Jail.
The initial news release from state police contained a timeline that required some sorting out: Moline police were notified around 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 of a shooting in the 2500 block of Avenue of the Cities. Around 6 p.m., police became aware that Patrick was a suspect and wisely avoided a conflict of interest by asking state police to take over the investigation.
Patrick was arrested in Davenport shortly before noon the next day. He waived extradition to Rock Island County, but he never was transported there. When someone posted the required 10 percent of his $250,000 bail, Rock Island County told Scott County to go ahead and cut him loose.
My questions then became: Moline police obviously became aware almost immediately that Patrick was a suspect, so why wasn't he arrested? Why did it take until the next day?
Moline Police Chief Darren Gault explained the timeline Monday: "The Moline Police Department was called (about the shooting) several hours later by the complainant and not to the incident in progress. No one from the Moline Police Department had any contact with Mr. Patrick, regarding this complaint."
I figured there must have been a witness, a license-plate number, video surveillance or some combination, given the police were able to quickly identify Patrick. So I canvassed the little neighborhood in the 2500 block of Avenue of the Cities and spoke with about a dozen neighbors. No one saw a thing — no police presence whatsoever.
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Illinois State Police Sgt. Jacqueline Cepeda assured me the ISP had been there.
"The ISP can confirm that on September 12, 2019, ISP investigators responded to the 2500 block of the Avenue of the Cities in Moline, Illinois, for a report of an aggravated discharge of a firearm," Cepeda wrote in an email Tuesday. "At this time the investigation remains open and ongoing, and no further details are available."
As indicated, we've been down this road with Patrick before.
At the retirement party for an East Moline police chief in 2004, Patrick was accused of attempting to strike his ex-wife and another law-enforcement officer with his car in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn in Moline. He got out of his vehicle swinging, reports stated, landing at least one blow on the officer.
The situation was not fully diffused until officers responded to a home where Patrick allegedly was hiding, and police blocked off the neighborhood to get him out. No charges were filed and, five years later, he was promoted to police captain.
In early 2014, Patrick again was under investigation. This time, his second wife called 911 in the early morning hours of New Years Eve to say Patrick had kicked down the door of their home and threw her to the floor.
Patrick told investigators he came home, realized his wife had called police, then packed a bag and left. His wife withdrew the accusations against him the next day, attributing her injuries to repeatedly falling down while walking home drunk. No charges were filed.
We're somehow more appalled when cases of alleged domestic violence and/or drunken conduct are attributed to police officers. We hold them to a higher standard and typically demand they do the same. And it sometimes works that way.
Last October, a month after his arrest by Iowa State Patrol for driving while intoxicated, former Police Chief John Hitchcock retired. The case brought back memories of dark days for Moline police, including those involving Patrick.
In his jail booking mug, the former captain appears to have a black eye. It is sadly symbolic. Patrick remains innocent until proven otherwise, but police know as well as anyone that a person's past is hardly ever fully dismissed. And there's a reason for that.
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