Ex-Chicago Police Sergeant Charged With Beating Outside Bar Gets Stiff Bond | WBEZ
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Judge Sets Stiff Bond For Ex-Chicago Police Sergeant Charged With Beating Outside Bar

A judge Tuesday afternoon set a stiff bond for recently retired Chicago Police Sgt. Eric J. Elkins, who faces felony charges after an altercation last fall outside a bar on the city’s North Side.

Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. called a prosecutor’s version of the events “shocking.” Lyke pointed to serious injuries in the altercation and to an allegation that Elkins, a police sergeant at that time, fled the scene.

Lyke set the bond at $250,000, required Elkins to post 10% of that sum for release and ordered electronic monitoring.

Elkins, if he can post the $25,000, will have to wear an ankle bracelet and will not be allowed to travel to Florida, where he moved in March, according to his attorney, Joel Brodsky.

Elkins faces two counts of aggravated battery. A codefendant, Giovanni Rodriguez, faces three counts of that offense and was held on a $50,000 bond that requires posting $5,000.

Each count is punishable by probation or a prison sentence of two to five years, Assistant State’s Attorney Angel Essig said.

Police say the altercation took place Sept. 29 at approximately 11:25 p.m. at Atmosphere, a gay bar at 5355 N. Clark St.

Essig said Elkins and Rodriguez were part of a group fighting with other male patrons inside the bar. Essig said both groups were ordered to leave.

Outside the bar, Elkins and Rodriguez struck two of the men in the face and body, Essig said, identifying the alleged victims by initials only. A third victim, who tried to intervene, was struck in the face.

Elkins managed to escape, but Rodriguez fled in a different direction and was apprehended that night, Essig said.

Two of the victims identified Rodriguez after he was brought back to the scene, Essig said. Those two later identified Elkins in a photo array, she said.

After Tuesday’s hearing, held at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building, Brodsky told reporters that Elkins had no role in the altercation.

Brodsky claimed Elkins’ bond was unfairly high, saying it would have been lower if Elkins were not a police officer.

Rodriguez’s attorney, Boris Djulabic, told the judge the victims yelled slurs at his client inside the bar.

“At best, it could be a melee,” Djulabic said. “It could be a self-defense situation, too.”

All three victims were transported to area hospitals with injuries that were not life-threatening, the police said.

One of the victims, John Sherwood, suffered a compound leg fracture.

“I went into a fetal position and they just continued to kick me, kick my head,” Sherwood said last fall at a news conference announcing a civil rights lawsuit against Elkins, Rodriguez and two other defendants.

Another plaintiff, Tomasz Stacha, said he suffered broken cheekbones and a perforated trachea.

Elkins and Rodriguez were held by police Monday after turning themselves in to Area North detectives, according to a Chicago Police Department statement.

Elkins, a 19-year CPD veteran, resigned in February “under investigation,” according to a police spokesman. He had been a sergeant since 2007, finishing his CPD career with a $104,628 salary, records show.

Newspapers have reported that Elkins twice faced criminal charges involving alleged sexual encounters with teenage boys but, for years, CPD kept him on its payroll.

Elkins had also been the subject of at least 35 citizen complaints alleging misconduct ranging from excessive force to illegal searches, according to the Chicago Police Data Project. Investigators did not “sustain” any of the complaints, and Elkins was never disciplined.

Police say Elkins, 45, was living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Rodriguez, 34, in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood.

The judge set a hearing for next week. Brodsky said he will ask for Elkins to have permission to stay in Florida and travel back for hearings in the case.

Chip Mitchell reports out of WBEZ’s West Side studio about policing. Follow him at @ChipMitchell1.

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