554 5 days ago
554 5 days ago
Winnebago County State's Attorney J. Hanley has dropped charges against a Rockford police officer who had been accused of roughing up a protester.
Officer Frank Fabiani had been charged with misdemeanor battery following the June 27 arrest of William “Sage” Patrick Gettings, a 22-year-old Belvidere activist who had been accused of resisting arrest, spitting on an officer and trying to take Fabiani's gun out of its holster.
Authorities say Gettings had not complied with the Fabiani's commands during a traffic stop before a confrontation ensued. Later, charges against Gettings were dropped and charges of battery were filed against Fabiani.
Hanley says that after a review he has dropped charges against Fabiani and decided not to reinstate charges against Gettings.
"In reviewing the facts of this case, it is important to note the mandate of the State’s Attorney," Hanley said in a news release. "I do not, and should not, pass judgment on whether Officer Fabiani should have acted differently, or may have violated police policy. Rather, I must determine whether a criminal act was committed and can only charge a case when the evidence is sufficient to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt."
Hanley said there isn't enough evidence to support charges against the officer.
Although he said there is enough evidence to charge Gettings, Hanley said he is choosing to use his discretion and will not renew charges against him.
"As for Gettings, the evidence shows that he resisted arrest," Hanley said in the release. "He failed to get back into his car, failed to put his hands behind his back, spit on officers, and reached for and grabbed Officer Fabiani’s gun. Nevertheless, and after much reflection, I have chosen to use my prosecutorial discretion and not reinstate the criminal charges against Gettings."
Lawyers for Gettings and Fabiani did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment.
Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea said that Fabiani had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal case. Fabiani is expected to return to active duty Monday.
Gettings was a participant in many of the protests held throughout Rockford after the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota police custody. Gettings had been pulled over around 11:15 p.m. June 27 for twice failing use his turn signal while driving a 2009 Toyota Avalon.
Fabiani wrote in his police report the he had seen someone in the car stick a hand out of the sunroof and yell something in the area of East State Street and Alpine Road. Fabiani followed the vehicle and saw the driver cut across several lanes of traffic without using a signal and then turn on Turner Street without a signal.
In an 18-second video Gettings recorded while in his car after he was pulled over in the area of Turner Street and Dawn Avenue, he claims not to have known it was illegal to turn without signaling.
Gettings got out of his vehicle, crossed his arms and refused to comply with orders to get back into his car, Fabiani wrote in his police report. Fabiani approached Gettings and grabbed him by the arms in an effort to turn him toward the Toyota.
Fabiani says that when Gettings resisted, he swept the 6-foot 2-inch, 145-pounder's legs out from under him, taking him to the ground where a struggle ensued.
Fabiani says that he began punching Gettings in the face and head when Gettings grabbed his arm. Fabiani said he punched him about five times, asking Gettings to put his hands behind his back between each strike.
"He told me ‘no’ every time and did not put his hands behind his back,” Fabiani wrote in the report. "Gettings then reached his left arm around my back and stated 'I'm grabbing your gun.' As I felt his hand on the handle of my duty weapon, I directed Gettings' face to the ground and punched him approximately three more times on the left side of his face and commanded him to release my gun."