Tuesday, February 5, 2019
State’s Attorney Berlin Finds Officer Justified in Glendale Heights Officer-Involved Shooting
Statement from State’s Attorney Berlin
“Every case involving the use of deadly force by a police officer must be carefully and thoroughly investigated. Such scrutiny is required to ensure the protection of the civil rights of those involved and to maintain the public’s confidence in law enforcement.
Following an extensive and thorough investigation conducted by the DuPage County Major Crimes Task Force regarding the shooting of George Almeida, Jr. by a Glendale Heights police officer, it is my determination that the officer, Krzysztof Padyasek, who discharged his weapon four times, striking Mr. Almeida one time in the hip, was justified in his actions and that no criminal charges will be filed against the officer. In reaching this conclusion, my staff and I carefully reviewed the applicable law and thoroughly examined all the evidence, including but not limited to:
• Police reports
• 9-1-1 calls
• Statements from those involved
• Witness accounts
• Physical evidence
• Glendale Heights Police Department radio traffic
In the early morning hours of December 29, 2018, Officer Padyasek responded to a 9-1-1 hang up call from 41 Joseph Lane, Glendale Heights. The call was placed by George Almeida’s mother. Upon his arrival at the home, the officer was dressed in a full patrol uniform and driving an unmarked black Ford Explorer police vehicle. The officer’s patrol uniform included a vest carrier embroidered with a visible police badge, his name tag and a SWAT pin fastened to the front of his vest. Another Glendale Heights police officer also responded to the dispatch 9-1-1 call at the same time. The officers proceeded to knock on the front door of the residence where Officer Padyasek could hear yelling from the inside of the home including a male voice yelling “Don’t open that door.” Officer Padyasek then heard a loud noise described as a “thud” which he believed to be someone falling down due to a fight in the home. Officer Padyasek then heard the overhead garage door to his left begin to open at which time he walked towards the driveway. With the garage door open, Officer Padyasek observed a woman with blood on her cheek, later identified as George Almeida’s mother, in the garage. Officer Padyasek called for the woman to exit the garage, which she did, joining the officers a few feet outside the garage. Officer Padyasek entered the garage and prepared to enter the house and search for additional people. As he moved across the center of the door leading from the garage into the house, he heard a person fall, and then saw a person sliding feet first down a flight of stairs inside the residence. Officer Padyasek retreated out the door and moved back toward the driveway. As he did this, George Almeida emerged from the door leading from the garage to the house with two steak knives in one hand and a white object, later determined to be a cordless phone, in the other. Almeida was waving the knives wildly above his head. Thinking he was going to be stabbed, Officer Padyasek exited the garage. At this time, both Officer Padyasek and another officer gave several loud verbal commands to Almeida to “drop the knife” and “don’t move.” Almeida did not comply with the officers’ commands and instead moved back toward the door leading into the house and pressed the button to close the overhead garage door. Fearful for not only his own safety but also for the safety of anyone who may be inside the house, Officer Padyasek stepped into the garage in an attempt to disrupt the overhead door from closing. At this time, Almeida began to advance toward Officer Padyasek. Officer Padyasek and the other police officer again ordered Almeida to “drop the knife” and “don’t move” but Almeida did not comply with the Officers’ orders. Almeida was holding the knives pointed forward and moving his arms in a back and forth motion. With Almeida approximately 6-8 feet away and fearing once again that Almeida was going to stab him, Officer Padyasek fired one shot. When Almeida did not drop the knives, Officer Padyasek fired a second shot. Almeida again did not drop the knives and Officer Padyasek fired two more times striking Almeida in the hip once. Almeida was taken into custody at this time. He was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital where he received treatment for his injury.
Following the incident, the entire scene was processed by the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office. Through their work, investigators recovered three kitchen style knives inside the garage between a parked vehicle and the door leading from the garage to the residence. Investigators also recovered four shell casings found at the scene.
The above facts have been evaluated in the context of Illinois law governing the justifiable use of deadly force. In accordance with Illinois law, my staff and I have reviewed the facts and circumstances of the case with special consideration given to the perspective of the officer on the scene. It is important to remember that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the appropriate amount of force necessary to bring a tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving situation under control.
In determining whether the shooting of George Almeida, Jr. was justifiable, the fundamental question to be answered is whether the officer reasonably believed that Mr. Almeida posed an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to the officers on the scene or others. The Peace Officer’s Use of Force in Making Arrest statute (720 ILCS 5/7-5) states that “a peace officer need not retreat or desist from efforts to make a lawful arrest.” Additionally, “a peace officer is justified in using force likely to cause death or great bodily harm only when he reasonably believes that 1) such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another person; or 2) when he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by resistance or escape and the person to be arrested has committed or attempted a forcible felony which involves the infliction or threatened infliction of great bodily harm, or is attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon, or otherwise indicates that he will endanger human life or inflict great bodily harm unless arrested without delay.” Thus, the question becomes whether it was objectively reasonable for Officer Padyasek to believe Mr. Almeida posed an immediate threat of death or great bodily harm to Officer Padyasek or others and was the use of force necessary to contain that threat. When Mr. Almeida refused clear and audible commands to “drop the knife” by Officer Padyasek and another Glendale Heights police officer, and instead advanced toward Officer Padyasek holding deadly weapons, Officer Padyasek was confronted with an imminent unlawful threat of deadly force by Mr. Almeida. Given his refusal to obey police commands and his advancing toward the officer while armed with two deadly weapons, Officer Padyasek acted lawfully and was justified in using deadly force by discharging his weapon in order to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or others. Considering all the facts and circumstances, Officer Padyasek’s belief that such force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another person was reasonable.
I would like to thank the DuPage County Major Crimes Task Force for conducting a thorough and independent investigation, as well as Assistant State’s Attorney Helen Kapas for her valuable assistance.
In my opinion, the officer involved in this unfortunate incident made every attempt to reach a peaceful conclusion under very stressful conditions. His concern for the safety and well-being of the other residents in the home as well as his fellow officers is a testament to the excellent training that the Glendale Heights Police Department provides for their entire force. Unfortunately, Mr. Almeida’s failure to obey the Officer’s commands and his aggressive, threatening behavior resulted in the officer discharging his weapon. Thankfully, for both Mr. Almeida and for the officer, the injury sustained by Mr. Almeida was not life threatening.