JEFFERSON PARK — An internal police investigation is underway after a woman allegedly threatened a Jefferson Park family over their criticism of a Northwest Side alderman, mowed down their garden with her SUV and totaled a neighbor’s car in the middle of the night.
A police spokesperson confirmed the Bureau of Internal Affairs opened an investigation related to the June 5 incident, but would not comment on what specific wrongdoing is being examined or which officers are under review.
Internal Affairs investigates, documents and reviews allegations of misconduct by Chicago police officers, according to the department’s website. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, by contrast, investigates allegations of excessive force.
The attack on Noreen and Pete Czosnyka’s home, first reported by Block Club on June 7, received widespread media attention and was caught on video. Even though Pete Czosnyka caught the license plate of the car, identified the driver through multiple tips and provided that information to police, it took five days for officers to make an arrest, prompting accusations of a cover-up.
Maureen McGlade, 49, was charged June 10 with two misdemeanors for criminal damage to property and failure to notify damage to an unattended vehicle. She also was cited for not having a valid registration, police said.
The clash began June 4 when a woman in a gold Ford Explorer SUV drove by the Czosnykas’ home near Miltimore and Menard avenues. According to Pete Czosnyka, who runs neighborhood Facebook page NWS Examiner and is a vocal critic of Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th), the woman told Noreen Czosnyka to tell her husband to “stop following the alderman.”
About nine hours later, at 3:15 a.m. Saturday, the couple’s 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.
Czosnyka said he thought his home was targeted because of his stance about Gardiner.
Recognizing the car from the earlier threat, Czosnyka said he gave the license plate information to responding officers, who looked up the plates within an hour and told him “she lives close” but did not provide a name, he said.
Czosnyka went to the 16th District police station June 6 to ask for the name of the driver so he could file an emergency order of protection against her, but was told there was no license plate information attached to the original report. Czosnyka filed another report that included the license plate number, according to documents he showed Block Club.
In all, Czosnyka filed three separate police reports about threat and the attack, providing the license plate information in all of them. Still, he said detail wasn’t in reports filed by the responding officers and supervisors who signed off on them.
Block Club obtained the reports through the Freedom of Information Act. In each, the driver’s name and license plate number of the car is marked as “unknown” under the identification section for the suspect. There is no designated space to list the license plate number of the car, and it is not included anywhere on the report.
In the hours after he filed the reports, Czosnyka said did some sleuthing of his own and felt confident he knew who the driver was. Frustrated that police either did not identify her or provide that information to him, he wrote the 16th district commander, COPA and the city’s Office of Inspector General alleging a cover-up because of the way officers handled the investigation.
“This glaring omission is concerning as we now know it was Maureen McGlade who committed this random act of violence that has terrorized my entire block,” Czosnyka wrote in his June 6 email. “We had serious concerns that your officers would appropriately handle this incident. Seeing this omission of identifying information does not instill confidence in your officer’s reporting.”
As the incident generated publicity, Czosnyka received more tips identifying the driver, angering him and neighbors who called for a quick arrest and better police accountability. After McGlade was arrested, the address police provided for her shows it is about three minutes from the Czosnykas home.
Asked about the ongoing internal investigation, Czosnyka said, “BIA is investigating only because COPA and OIG both are clued in.”
The Czosnykas have said McGlade is a vocal supporter of Gardiner and has disagreed with Pete Czosnyka’s political views on Facebook.
He said the slow action from police in arresting her is especially worrisome because one of the officers who came to his house is a high-ranking official with the Northwest Side GOP Club and the 41st Ward Republican committeeman. The police reports confirm she was one of the responding officers and the supervisor who finalized the report.
She is also under internal investigation for homophobic comments posted to her personal Facebook page that have since been deleted.
McGlade has also been a part of the same organization and network as the police officer.
“This is an example of police corruption that is not unexpected on the Northwest Side,” Czosnyka previously told Block Club. “This gets covered up because it’s white-on-white crime with people who have ties to the police.”
Gardiner has not responded to repeated requests for comment from Block Club or other reporters on social media about the incident and dodged the issue at a recent virtual public meeting.
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