Two Evanston police officers are on leave and the department has launched an internal investigation after a 24-year-old African-American man was arrested Sunday while collecting signatures to run for local public office, according to Evanston Police Cmdr. Joseph Dugan.
Devon Reid, 24, was in the 1700 block of Sherman Avenue in downtown Evanston when he was stopped just after 5:30 p.m., Dugan said.
Dugan said one of the officers, a white woman, saw Reid and another man with clipboards and wondered what they were doing. He said she stopped them and asked for their names and birth dates. The other man was a white 23-year-old, according to a Monday release by the city.
The men gave their names but Reid, who said he hopes to run for Evanston city clerk, refused to give his birth date, Dugan said.
“She asked several times. He refused several times,” Dugan said. Finally, the officer told Reid she would arrest him if he did not give his birth date. He still refused and she put him under arrest after calling for assistance from another officer, an African-American man.
The female patrol officer and her immediate supervisor, a white male sergeant, are the officers who were put on leave, Dugan said. The second responding patrol officer was not put on leave, he said. Dugan said the sergeant was put on leave because he was involved after Reid was brought back to the station.
Dugan said Reid was cited for disobedience to police in a public place and taken to the Evanston police station. Reid said he was put in handcuffs on the street before being taken to the police station. Dugan confirmed Reid was brought in for processing but was not placed in a cell; he bonded out at 7:25 p.m.
The officers are on paid administrative leave while the department investigates what happened, something that could take a few weeks, he said.
But Dugan said that the decision to arrest Reid was wrong.
“She didn’t have to do that. She erred,” Dugan said. “He shouldn’t have been arrested. Why it happened will be part of the investigation.”
Collecting signatures in downtown Evanston is not illegal, Dugan said, and Reid was under no obligation to give the officer his birth date.
Dugan said he was not aware of any disciplinary record for the two officers. He said any repercussions they might face would be determined by Evanston’s police chief, Richard Eddington.
Speaking at Monday night’s Evanston City Council meeting, Reid said he believed he was arrested because of his race.
“I was handcuffed in the basement of the Evanston Police Department for being a 24-year-old African-American male running for political office in this city,” Reid said.
He spoke the same night that the Evanston City Council voted to strengthen the city’s sanctuary city ordinance, which protects undocumented residents within city limits. Some in the meeting asked the council to consider greater police oversight while they discussed stronger resident protections.
“The election was a wake-up call for a lot of us,” said Ald. Judy Fiske, 1st. “Last night was also a wake-up call.”
Evanston resident Karen Courtright said it was incumbent on the council to prevent similar occurrences from happening again.
“The time has come for a little action in stopping the bullies on the police force,” she said.