CHICAGO — Moments after a River North man was randomly attacked on the Magnificent Mile this summer, an assault from which he would die days later, the assailant and two witnesses walked up to a Chicago police squad car parked on the Magnificent Mile. The cops inside the vehicle were watching a television show on a tablet.
The officers let the attacker walk away, and the investigation found that they didn’t file a standard report to document their encounter with him. Other officers failed to file a basic initial case report, a step that would ordinarily launch an investigation by detectives.
Those are some of the allegations laid out in a Chicago Police Department Bureau of Internal Affairs summary report that recommends suspensions of between two and five days for the cops. All of the officers are entitled to fight the allegations through a grievance or arbitration.
CWBChicago first told you about the attack on 53-year-old Russ Long outside the Cartier store, 630 North Michigan, and the botched police investigation on August 14. Now, the results of CPD’s internal investigation have been released to the public.
Magnificent Mile attack
Russ Long loved his high-rise home overlooking the river near the Wabash Bridge. A long-time employee at Northern Trust, former coworkers remember him as sharp and reliable.
At about 3:45 p.m. on June 29, Long was walking on the 600 block of North Michigan Avenue. Without warning or provocation, prosecutors said last month, 49-year-old Henry Graham walked up behind Long and violently punched him in the head. Long fell to the pavement, striking his head on the concrete. He died from his injuries at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on July 12.
Graham, who has been repeatedly arrested for randomly battering people in Chicago, Evanston, and on the CTA, was followed by two witnesses to the 500 block of North Michigan. There, the witnesses and Graham walked up to a Chicago Police Department squad car parked in front of the Shops at North Bridge.
Two officers sitting inside the police car were “watching a television show on a personal tablet device while on-duty” when the witnesses and Graham approached them, the internal affairs report alleged.
“Yeah, the [witnesses] walked up on us, and he walked right up to the [squad] car,” one officer radioed.
“Alrighty,” the dispatcher replied. “I got you guys holding that offender at 520 North Michigan.”
Officers John Smith, 52, and Victor Creed, 49, were “working an overtime initiative along Chicago’s ‘Magnificent Mile'” at the time, the report continued. Smith and Creed did not complete an Investigatory Stop Report to document their contact with Graham and failed to properly investigate the attack on Long, according to the allegations.
Internal affairs investigators accused two other officers, Jose Aguinaga, 30, and Manuel Soto, age unknown, of failing to complete a case report, failing to arrest Graham, failing to secure the crime scene, and failing to make notifications about the incident.
All four officers are accused of violating a host of CPD directives and procedures in the administrative summary report of the internal affairs investigation, including failure to properly activate their body cameras.
The report recommended suspensions of five days for Aguinaga and Soto, three days for Smith, and two days for Creed.
CPD records show the police department didn’t document the attack until July 2, four days after it occurred.
People familiar with the situation said a police officer went to the hospital after Long was taken in, but they left without filing a report because he could not speak. Long, badly injured, was intubated and sedated.
At least three people tried to file a report with CPD over the next four days; each was met with a different reason why the police department could not take a report from them, said a person familiar with the requests.
Finally, on July 2, a friend of Long’s called 911 from his hospital bedside and asked for an officer to come to Northwestern to take a report. The call taker again refused to send an officer because Long could not speak, but eventually relented and dispatched a car, and a report was filed.
According to sources familiar with the matter, area Three detectives started pursuing the case immediately.
Graham remained on the loose for months. Between the time officers released him minutes after the attack and the filing of murder charges in October, he had been arrested six more times, according to court records:
- On July 9, for trespassing at a River North church. The case was dropped on August 22.
- On August 4, for throwing a bottle of gin through an Evanston store window. The case was dropped on September 5.
- On August 16, he was charged with pushing a 14-year-old girl in the chest, causing her to fall over a bench. Evanston police said he pulled the girl by her ankle, causing her to suffer scrapes to her arms and legs. He received a sentence of 18 days time served on September 5.
- He was charged with four felony counts of aggravated battery to police officers on September 22. Evanston police accused him of biting one officer on the hand, biting another officer on the thigh, kicking a third officer in the groin, and hitting a fourth officer.
On October 3, Graham was arrested on allegations that he attacked a man on the corner of Addison and Clark. A nearby Earthcam recorded the incident, and @cpd1617scanner posted the footage. Watch:
“He used a closed fist and wound his upper body in a manner like a person would throw a baseball and struck [Long] violently in the head area,” prosecutors said in a written proffer filed during Graham’s detention hearing.
His felony criminal background includes aggravated battery of a peace officer in 2017 and a federal charge of importing firearms in 2012, officials said. He remains in custody at the Cook County jail.