A veteran Chicago Police Department field training officer has been charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct after tazing a man during a street stop last year.
But an attorney representing Officer Marco Simonetti argued on Thursday that the Taser deployment was “absolutely unintentional and accidental.” Simonetti, who joined the force in 1994, was relieved of his police powers on Wednesday.
Simonetti, 58, responded to a call of a suspicious person pulling on residential gates in the 3500 block of North Normandy around 11:04 a.m. on August 7, 2021, prosecutor Alyssa Janicki said.
Someone flagged Simonetti down and identified the suspicious person as a man sitting on a nearby porch. The man on the porch approached Simonetti and informed him that he lived in the house and had done nothing wrong.
According to Janicki, the man did not have identification or a key to the house, and Simonetti threatened to “lock him up” for lying.
As Simonetti grabbed the man by the wrist, the man asked, “Why are you arresting me?” But Simonetti said he was not arresting him, and the man ran toward the house, Janicki said.
“I’m going to taze you. Last warning,” Simonetti yelled as the man bent toward the ground, pleading with Simonetti not to use the Taser.
Simonetti repeatedly warned the man that he would use the Taser as the man said he did nothing wrong and went back and forth between crouching and standing, Janicki continued.
“I’m going to taze you. Last warning,” Simonetti yelled as the man bent toward the ground, asking Simonetti to put the Taser away and not use it.
As the man’s hands touched the ground, Simonetti deployed the Taser. One prong hit the man in the forehead, the other in his left arm, according to Janicki.
She said the tazing caused the man to fall face-first onto the walkway. He suffered head and facial injuries, including a broken nose.
When Simonetti radioed for an ambulance, he told the dispatcher, “I had to taze him,” but in a written report, he stated that the device was accidentally deployed.
“Thank God Officer Simonetti had his body-worn camera on the whole time,” defense attorney Jim McKay said during Thursday’s bail hearing, “because it’s going to preserve all of the evidence in this case and disputes most of what the state’s attorney just proffered.”
McKay said the video would show that the man was not at his own home, he physically resisted, fled from Simonetti, and “refused all police commands.”
“The discharge of the Taser was absolutely unintentional and accidental, and the state’s attorney knows that,” McKay continued. “Why did she wait over a year and two months before charging?”
Judge Maryam Ahmad ordered Simonetti to pay a $500 deposit toward bail. She also ordered him to surrender his Firearm Owner’s ID card and all weapons to the sheriff’s office.