JEFFERSON PARK — Despite having a license plate number and name, police haven’t arrested or cited the woman who drove through a family’s yard and hit a neighbor’s car over the weekend.
The inaction has angered Far Northwest Siders who say she needs to be held accountable for dangerously escalating clashes between supporters and critics of Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th).
Pete Czosnyka, who thinks his home was targeted by the driver because of his criticism of Gardiner, said he identified the woman from multiple tips and license plate information provided by witnesses. Czosnyka said he gave that information to police, who looked up the driver’s plates within an hour of the incident and told him “she lived close” but did not provide a name, he said.
Four days later, police have made no arrests and Czosnyka has not received any updates from 16th District detectives. A police spokesperson said the case is under investigation and would not provide additional details.
Gardiner has not responded to repeated requests for comment about the incident.
Delays to arrest the woman responsible sends a bad message, residents said.
The woman “needs to come forward and have consequences for her actions just like any of us would have to do,” said Barbara Murphy, a Jefferson Park landlord and resident. “It’s policing like this that makes the whole department look bad.”
The Czosnykas say the woman threatened them before driving her SUV into their yard, destroying half of their garden and hitting a neighbor’s car.
It started 7 p.m. Friday: A woman in a gold Ford Explorer SUV drove by the family’s house near Miltimore and Menard Avenues and cursed at Noreen Czosnyka, who was outside tending to her garden, Pete Czosnyka said.
The woman said Noreen Czosnyka should tell her husband to “stop following the alderman,” said Pete Czosnyka, who runs neighborhood Facebook page NWS Examiner.
About nine hours later, at 3:15 a.m. Saturday, the Czosnykas’ dog began barking and the family heard loud music and screeching, Pete Czosnyka said. They went outside and saw a woman in the same vehicle driving over their garden and into their yard multiple times while screaming.
After determining who the driver is, the couple realized the woman is a vocal supporter of Gardiner and has disagreed with Pete Czosnyka’s political views on Facebook.
Block Club is not naming the accused woman because she has not been charged with a crime.
Reached by phone Tuesday, the woman said she is the victim in the situation and Pete Czosnyka targeted people who disagree with him politically. She did not confirm she was the driver in the incident.
“I feel like I’m being victimized here,” the woman said. “I think you just need to call off your dogs right now because I’m really scared of this man. I’m terrified of him. … I’m terrified to leave my house.”
Czosnyka said her story holds no water and he wants the woman arrested and held accountable for her actions, which threatened his family.
The fact that officers from the 16th District have not made moves on the case is concerning, Czosnyka said — especially because one of the officers who came to his house is the vice president of the Northwest Side GOP Club and the 41st Ward Republican committeeman.
Czosnyka said the woman who destroyed his lawn is part of the same organization and network, and Block Club obtained documents showing she was a member of the group in 2017.
“This is an example of police corruption that is not unexpected on the Northwest Side,” Czosnyka said. “This gets covered up because it’s white-on-white crime with people who have ties to the police.”
Neighbors are also concerned the police have not yet arrested anyone.
John Dall, Czosnyka’s neighbor whose car was badly damaged by the woman, said he and his wife did not hear the commotion but were awakened about 4 a.m. by officers who told them what happened.
Dall is waiting for the final report from detectives but plans to “make more of a stink of it” if there is no movement soon on the case.
“I am surprised that there was not an immediate arrest only because she did a hit-and-run on my vehicle,” said Dall, who has lived on the block for decades. “If Pete wasn’t out there [and got the license plate number], she would have gotten away with it and we would not have known who did it.”
Dall said his car is likely totaled and its bumper and license plate were carried off when the SUV driver hit it. He is trying to figure out what can be covered by his insurance, he said.
Sara Gronkiewicz-Doran, secretary of progressive political group United Northwest Side and a Jefferson Park resident, said news about the crash was scary.
Gronkiewicz-Doran said the lack of movement on the case by police shows they cannot be trusted “to carry out justice when their own interests and the interests of people running with them are involved.”
She said every Chicagoan deserves to feel safe and seek accountability in their community by the police, no matter the connections officers might have outside of work.
“This is all part and parcel of the same problem that is plaguing people all over the city, which is the code of silence protects police and the politically connected from being held accountable,” Gronkiewicz-Doran said.
Murphy said she’s also been targeted after denouncing Gardiner.
A brick was thrown through Murphy’s door in November after she criticized the alderman on Facebook following a prominent parking permit dispute at her property.
Murphy has been fighting to get a parking permit exception from Gardiner for her tenants after a residential parking permit was placed at the 4400 block of North LaCrosse Avenue last year.
Murphy said she asked the alderman for an exception to park in the area, but he told CBS2 that wasn’t possible. However, documents show he made an exception for two other addresses on the same block, according to CBS2.
Murphy said no culprit was found responsible for damaging her property but she hopes the woman responsible for Saturday’s incident gets arrested and charged. The inaction from police is worrisome and points to a lack of public safety, she said.
“How do I know she is not going to come to my house and do something because I had a run-in with Gardiner? As a neighbor, that is what I feel,” Murphy said. “I don’t know how many people are out there gallivanting with their cars onto people’s lawns.”
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: