DuPage deputy wins $7.5 million judgment for spinal injury suffered in training

A federal jury has awarded a DuPage County sheriff's deputy $7.5 million in damages for injuries he suffered during a special-operations training exercise in 2014.

On Sept. 2, the jury found that Safariland LLC, a manufacturer of law enforcement equipment, was liable for a 12-gauge tactical knockout breaching round that didn't disintegrate as intended and instead penetrated into the spinal canal of deputy David Hakim.

According to his lawsuit, Hakim was a team leader on the sheriff's special-operations team when it was training Dec. 11, 2014, in a soon-to-be-demolished house in Hinsdale.

The team was practicing breaching doors by firing special ammunition at the door hardware. Hakim's lawyer, Edmund Scanlan, argued the round was faulty, because when one of the people in the basement fired, it didn't disintegrate to dust as it was supposed to. Instead, it went through the door and a stair riser before striking the bottom edge of Hakim's body armor and deflecting into his spine, he said.

Hakim underwent emergency surgery and has recovered enough to return to work for the sheriff's office, where he is now assigned to a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force. But the injury has affected his ability to run his side business, a martial arts studio, Scanlan said.

Safariland argued the product was not defective and that the shooter must not have used it properly, according to federal court records. Scanlan noted the shooter was an ex-Marine sharpshooter. "These guys don't miss from 3 feet," he said.

Hakim declined to be interviewed because he believes Safariland will file an appeal.

A representative for Safariland said company officials declined to comment.

It's safe in the Hills

For the third consecutive year, the small Kane County village of Campton Hills has been named the safest community in Illinois by the home security website SafeWise.

The village of about 11,000 registered just 0.1 violent crimes per 1,000 residents in 2020 and 0.6 property crimes, according to data compiled by the site. Statewide, those figures are 4.1 and 18.5, respectively.

Placing second was Hawthorn Woods, followed by Inverness, Lindenhurst and Elburn. Rounding out the top are Lake in the Hills (8th), Gilberts (9th) and Huntley (10th).

SafeWise bases its rankings on Uniform Crime Reporting data provided to the FBI.

According to the data, aggravated assault was the most common violent crime in Illinois last year, accounting for 62% of the total. Theft was the most frequent property crime, making up about 75% of the total.

To see if your hometown made SafeWise's list of the 50 safest in Illinois, visit

Top cops in traffic safety

When it comes to keeping drivers on the road safe, Arlington Heights police are among the best in Illinois.

Arlington Heights police Sgt. Russ Mandel, left, and Cmdr. Ed Commers, right, are presented with the department's awards from the Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge by Hazel Crest Police Chief Mitchell Davis III, president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. Courtesy of Arlington Heights Police Department

At least that's according to the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, which recently awarded the AHPD its Judge's Award for having the most comprehensive traffic safety program in the state.

The honor was given as part of the annual Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge, a friendly competition in which police departments across the state demonstrate how they identify traffic issues, plan strategies to address them and improve the quality of life in their communities.

Besides the Judge's Award, Arlington Heights police also walked away with first place in the Municipal category for departments with more than 100 officers, and first-place awards in occupant protection, speed awareness and distracted driving.

Arlington Heights police officials were honored by the village board this week for their success in the Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge. Pictured are Trustee Robin LaBedz, front, and back from left to right, Law Enforcement Liaison Paul Rizzo, Chief Nicholas Pecora, Deputy Chief Greg Czernecki, Cmdr. Ed Commers, Officer Dave Lavin, Officer Jeff Aiello and Sgt. Russ Mandel. Courtesy of Arlington Heights Police Department

"Ultimately our goal as an organization is to reduce the number of traffic-related crashes, injuries and deaths in our community," Deputy Chief Greg Czernecki said. "Receiving these awards, as evaluated by our law enforcement peers and traffic safety professionals, validates our ongoing commitment to developing innovative strategies in traffic safety."

Other suburban winners included Hanover Park (first), Lombard (second) and Bartlett (third) in the Municipal category for departments with 51 to 65 officers; Carol Stream (first) in the Champions class, impaired driving and occupant protection; and Lombard in impaired driving.

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