Electronic monitoring participant left his house, attacked woman at CTA bus stop as authorities moved in: prosecutors

Prosecutors say a Chicago man left his home without permission while on electronic monitoring for pending felony charges, then attacked a woman at a CTA bus stop and threatened to break her neck as authorities tried to take him back into custody.

John Hemphill, 53, had been on house arrest since prosecutors charged him with burglary and impersonating a federal officer in July. Officials said he locked people out of their homes and claimed to be a federal receiver with exclusive authority over the property.

John Hemphill and the bus stop at 35th and Cottage Grove. | CCSO; Google

Employees in the sheriff’s office received alerts that Hemphill’s ankle monitor had been tampered with and he had left his home without permission on November 1, prosecutor Lorraine Scaduto said Monday.

Investigators spotted Hemphill about a mile from his home, but he ran away from them and put a chokehold on a woman who was waiting for a bus near 35th and Cottage Grove, Scaduto said.

“I will break her f*cking neck! Get back!” Hemphill allegedly yelled at the sheriff’s office investigators as the woman screamed. “I will break her neck. Get the real police.”

Hemphill tightened his grasp on the woman’s neck as the investigators got closer.

The woman later told police she “felt as if her eyeballs were going to come out” from the force of the chokehold, according to Scaduto. The victim said she became lightheaded and feared that Hemphill would abduct her.

Police tased Hemphill twice before he released the woman as she gasped for air, Scaduto said, adding that the incident was captured on body cameras.

“This person was just standing there waiting for the bus,” the veteran prosecutor noted.

Prosecutors charged Hemphill on Monday with aggravated battery by strangulation, unlawful restraint, and criminal damage to government property for allegedly breaking his ankle monitor.

Hemphill was convicted of felony theft twice in 2007, burglary in 2002, and federal mail fraud more recently.

Scaduto said he has a history of locking people out of their homes and demanding money from them to regain access, often while posing as a federal authority.

In July, Judge Barbara Dawkins ordered him to pay a $5,000 bail deposit to go home on electronic monitoring. He made the payment the next day, Scaduto said.

On Monday, Judge Kelly McCarthy held him without bail for violating his bond conditions in that case. She said he must pay a $50,000 bail deposit to be released on electronic monitoring on the new charges.

Hemphill is not charged with escape from electronic monitoring because Illinois’ criminal justice reform bill known as the SAFE-T Act decriminalized absences of less than 48 hours.

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