Less than two weeks after prosecutors filed felony charges against a Chicago cop and accused him of punching a handcuffed man in the groin, they have dropped charges because a grand jury refused to indict the officer.
Christopher Hillas, 43, was charged with aggravated battery in a public place and official misconduct on February 17. His defense attorney at the time said the incident was a misunderstanding that started when Hillas and another officer bumped heads — but Hillas wrongly believed the detained man had struck him.
Hillas had just arrived for work at the Near West (12th) District station parking lot the night of Christmas Eve and was still in his car when Nokomis Jefferson, 29, ran onto the lot with a gunshot wound, according to prosecutors.
Other officers detained Jefferson, who was subsequently charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting at cops in an exchange of gunfire nearby.
Hillas got out of his car to assist on-duty officers by searching Jefferson. As he stood up from patting Jefferson’s legs, Hillas’ head bumped another officer’s head, defense attorney Tim Grace said last month.
Hillas thought Jefferson had struck him or hit him with a knee, according to Grace.
Prosecutors said Hillas punched Jefferson, who was handcuffed, four times in the groin. Other officers pulled Hillas away from Jefferson. Hillas walked away, then turned back toward Jefferson until other cops stopped him, prosecutors said last month. Several CPD body cameras recorded the incident.
But a grand jury declined to return a true bill against Hillas, and prosecutors dropped all charges against him. It is not clear if the state will seek new charges.
CPD stripped HIllas of his police powers on December 31 and referred the case to COPA, the city’s police oversight agency. That investigation remains active.
Hillas has been a Chicago police officer since December 2016. He grew up in Hoffman Estates and previously served in the Coast Guard, according to Grace.
Judge Maryam Ahmad set bail at $10,000 on February 17 and, against Grace’s objections, ordered Hillas to surrender his firearms license. Grace urged Ahmad to reconsider her decision, saying that Hillas had already turned over his weapons, but CPD would put him in no-pay status if he did not have a firearms license. Ahmad stood by her order.