Wauconda police officers cleared in fatal shooting

  • John T. Nightingale

    John T. Nightingale

  • Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Cmdr. George Filenko, in the red shirt, talks to officers after an April 7 shooting in Wauconda.

    Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Cmdr. George Filenko, in the red shirt, talks to officers after an April 7 shooting in Wauconda. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Updated 4/22/2014 5:10 AM

Two Wauconda police officers have been cleared in an April 7 shooting that left one man dead, authorities announced Monday.

The officers were justified in using deadly force because the man they shot, John T. Nightingale, was pointing a loaded handgun at them and refused to drop the weapon, said George Filenko, commander of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force.


"When you point a gun at police, there's usually not a good outcome," said Filenko, who also serves as Round Lake Park's police chief.

Both officers have returned to active duty, Deputy Police Chief Thomas Bender said.

The officers have not been publicly identified. One is a 20-year veteran and the other is a 15-year veteran.

The task force spent more than a week investigating the shooting. When it was complete, Filenko met with Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim and other officials for a personal discussion last week.

Nerheim and Chief Deputy State's Attorney Jeff Pavletic independently reviewed the case and agreed the shooting was justified, Nerheim said.

Wauconda police were "relieved" by the decision, Bender said.

"We are committed to providing the community with a professional police department," he said. "These two officers are an example of the brave men and women who make up the Wauconda Police Department."

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Wauconda police had gone to a house on the 100 block of Slocum Lake Road while investigating a report of a stolen pickup truck. Nightingale had been staying there with friends for more than a week.

The person who filed the theft report in Cary claimed he lent the vehicle to Nightingale for repairs, and it was overdue, police said.

When police arrived, Nightingale confronted them near a doorway with a .38-caliber revolver, Filenko said.

They repeatedly demanded the 36-year-old man drop the weapon and then shot him, Filenko said. Each officer fired four shots with .40-caliber, semi-automatic pistols, he said.

Nightingale was hit four times, including two grazing wounds, Filenko said. He never fired his gun.

The officers gave Nightingale first aid until paramedics arrived, Filenko said.


"He was still breathing when they put him in the ambulance," Filenko said.

Nightingale was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville and died there.

No officers or any other civilians were hurt. One of the shots hit a neighboring house, Filenko said.

The stolen truck was found behind a house on Slocum Lake Road, across the street from where the shooting occurred, police said.

Nightingale did not have an Illinois Firearm Owners Identification card, Filenko said. Authorities are tracing the gun and awaiting results of ballistic tests to determine where it came from or if it was used during any crimes.

Nightingale previously had lived in Wauconda, on Slocum Lake Road and elsewhere, friends said. His father, John Nightingale Sr. of Buffalo, N.Y., said he remains "in shock" about the shooting.

"My son was a good guy," the elder Nightingale said in a telephone interview. "He was an Eagle Scout. He was good in school."

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