Officer Matt Rush, of Champaign, Illinois, who has already cost taxpayers $320,000 in payments for three of the four excessive force lawsuits he has been involved in, has now been suspended during a probe into what apparently is a fifth incident. He was also briefly fired, then reinstated to the Champaign Police Department after the third lawsuit.
Although the reason for this suspension hasn’t been released yet, the spokesperson for the police union in Champaign has stated that it is not related to the four previous lawsuits, but rather a result of “intense negative publicity and inaccurate public statements.” It’s not really clear what that actually means.
Interestingly enough, Officer Rush had been using his vacation and then subsequently on voluntary unpaid suspension after that fourth excessive force claim, but now that he is officially being “investigated” by his coworkers the department is required to transfer him onto paid vacation. So, in essence once the sham of pretending they are going to punish Rush ends, he’ll in reality have benefited from whatever it is he’s accused of this time.
In addition, according to the Illinois State’s Attorney “based on his disciplinary history and untruthfulness” Officer Rush can no longer be called to testify in court once he is inevitably reinstated. That would kinda seem to render him unable to carry out a fairly crucial part of his job description as a police officer. Seemingly, that would mean that anybody that challenged their case against him in court would have a pretty good chance of winning, since he can’t testify as to what they did.
Via the News-Gazette:
Here is a timeline of events in the tenure of Champaign police officer Matt Rush, with links to documents with more information:
From Rush’s personnel file:
Feb. 8, 2010: Matt Rush is hired as a Champaign police officer at a salary of $50,099.81.
April 21, 2011: Police Chief R.T. Finney extends Rush’s probationary period “due to performance based issues” for 90 days, until August 2011.
Aug. 4, 2011: Rush passes probationary period.
Sept. 4, 2011: A civilian files a complaint against Rush, alleging unreasonable force and that police lost a wallet. On July 3, 2012, Chief Anthony Cobb notifies the person that the complaint is officially ruled unfounded.
From an internal investigation into an April 11, 2014 incident is this list (page 21):
Jan. 30, 2012: Rush receives a letter of reprimand for a preventable accident.
Feb. 9, 2012: Counseled for discourtesy to witness. (Counseling is not considered discipline under department rules.)
May 14, 2012: Counseled for being late to work.
Dec. 15, 2012: Rush is counseled about a use-of-force issue with a non-compliant subject.
April 29, 2013: Rush is counseled after missing a court appearance.
Sept. 10, 2013: Rush is suspended for two days for multiple rules violations during a response to a domestic incident.
Sept. 27, 2014: Rush receives a letter of reprimand for failing to use lights and siren during an emergency response.
Sept. 26, 2012: Citizen files a complaint against Rush over incident trying to get a guest to gather belongings and leave a Champaign motel. On Nov. 30, 2012, Cobb notified the person who filed that complaint that it was ruled unfounded.
Oct. 28, 2012: Rush and others respond to a call about an unruly teen. The mother later files a complaint against Rush for using inappropriate language at the home. Cobb rules the complaint unfounded.
June 2, 2013: Rush responds to a single-car accident involving William Brown. When Rush arrives on the scene, Brown flees but stops to lie down when it is clear he would get caught. Brown alleges he was not resisting and Rush punched him in the face twice. Brown later files a lawsuit, which the city settles for $25,000.
July 31, 2013:Complaint filed against Rush for not writing a report documenting contact with a person and for not summoning medical help for the person’s injured arm. He went to the location because one of the people there, with multiple felony convictions, called him on his personal cell phone and not via METCAD dispatchers. Both portions of the complaint were sustained.
Nov. 2, 2013: Rush responds to a traffic stop/foot chase that leads to complaint against him for excessive use of force.
Feb. 25, 2014: Champaign police Lt. Dave Shaffer submits to Chief Anthony Cobb the result of his investigation into the complaint against Rush. His review says officers acted in accordance with the department’s policies.
March 3, 2014: Rush responds with other officers to a hit-and-run accident in the 1100 block of West Bradley Avenue at 10:40 p.m. He didn’t complete paperwork requirements in connection with the crash.
March 20, 2014:Complaint alleging false arrest and excessive force filed by Benjamin Mann over an incident on March 16, in which a woman called to have someone watch while she gave her boyfriend his keys, because they had broken up. On May 7, Cobb sends Mann a letter ruling the complaints unfounded. Mann later files a lawsuit against the city.
April 11, 2014: Rush responds with other officers to a call of a fight. He swears at Kisica Seets, a suspect who is uncooperative and swearing at him, and Rush doesn’t document grabbing her arm or striking her legs, prompting city disciplinary action. Seets later filed a lawsuit. May 5, 2014: Police Lt. Tod Myers submits review of Rush’s actions in the March 3 and April 11 incidents, finding several that violate department policy and rules, including that Rush’s grabbing of the person by the arm did not appear to be justified, that he used his knee to get the woman into a squad car but did not document doing so, and that he then “delivered a knee strike” to the woman — and did not include that in his report — after she was in the squad car. In the March 3 incident, the report says Rush didn’t follow paperwork rules.
May 26, 2014: Rush punches a woman in the process of trying to arrest her. He also was found to have been discourteous to her and to have not documented that he had punched her. He was disciplined over the arrest.
July 23, 2014: Cobb sends Rush a letter notifying him his employment is terminated as of Aug. 8.
April 3, 2015:Arbitrator Fredric R. Dichter overrules the police department, reinstating Rush and imposing 1-, 3- and 30-day suspensions instead.
April 8, 2015: Rush returns to duty.
Dec. 1, 2015:The Champaign City Council approves a $25,000 settlement in Brown’s lawsuit.
Dec. 15, 2015: The council approves a $225,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed by Benjamin Mann.
Rush was reported on paid leave in January, using vacation and personal time. He now is on unpaid leave.
Feb. 2, 2016: Champaign city council approves a $70,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed against Rush by Kisica Seets.
Feb. 19, 2016: A fourth lawsuit alleging excessive use of force is filed against Rush, another officer and the city.
Editor’s Note: This timeline predates the current “investigation” and resulting placement of Officer Rush onto paid vacation.
That’s quite the highlight reel Officer Rush has been compiling up there in Champaign, basically since day one. Obviously, it’s a very crowded field, but he’s making a good case to be recognized as the Michael Jordan of Bad Apples. (It’s kinda ironic with him being in Illinois, a couple hours drive from Chicago.)