A McHenry County court recently acquitted veteran Des Plaines police Sgt. Matthew Hicks on all counts of domestic battery and related charges.
Hicks, an 18-year Des Plaines police department employee, was accused of striking his wife, pulling her hair, and preventing her from calling police on April 18, 2010, at their Huntley home.
If convicted of domestic battery, Hicks would have been barred from possessing a firearm, making it impossible for him to continue being a police officer.
Hicks, who has been on disability leave since a 2009 automobile accident, was paid $125,000 by the city to retire upon turning 50 years old on Dec. 20, 2014, and drop all claims of wrongful discharge against the city, including an employment discrimination complaint, according to a 10-page settlement agreement.
With the not-guilty verdict, Hicks says he is not sure whether he would want to rejoin the Des Plaines police department.
"I'm going to weigh all options," Hicks said Monday. "I do not plan on going back to Des Plaines, but I will never rule anything out. The main thing that I am happy about is that this whole thing is over. I have no issues about the time I served the citizens of Des Plaines. It was a great job and I wouldn't change it for the world."
Des Plaines Acting Police Chief Mike Kozak said Hicks' acquittal does not affect his employment status with the police department.
"It does not affect the settlement agreement at all," Kozak said. "This doesn't change anything."
Kozak said based on the agreement, he could not comment further on the matter.
Hicks Monday took issue with the way the city handled the investigation into his domestic battery charges, seeking his termination before the McHenry County court case was resolved.
Des Plaines police department initially suspended Hicks with pay after his April 2010 arrest, and in August 2010 suspended him without pay. In April 2011, Des Plaines police dropped the seven internal misconduct charges against Hicks after both sides came to an agreement that Hicks would get $125,000, apply for a disability pension and never again work as a police officer for the city.
Per the settlement agreement, Des Plaines has agreed if Hicks were to seek employment elsewhere, the city would provide the prospective employer with "a written, neutral employment verification."
"I had claimed my innocence from the start," Hicks said. "Des Plaines went about the whole situation inappropriately. Their investigation of the case showed bias, and prejudice. They should have waited until the courts made their decision. They should have done a proper investigation. As a policeman, you always go by the courts as being innocent until proven guilty."
Hicks said he is now "happily" back with his wife and that "it's time to move on."