Naperville police union defends officer sued over teen's death
Naperville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 42 spoke out Thursday on behalf of one of its officers who is accused in a lawsuit filed after the death by suicide of a Naperville teen.
In its written statement, the union said officer Brett Heun "followed the law and applicable policies and procedures" in handling a situation on Jan. 11 involving 16-year-old Corey Walgren at Naperville North High School.
The statement goes a step further than remarks made Tuesday by Naperville police Chief Robert Marshall, who said Heun's involvement in the situation that led to Corey's death has been "publicly mischaracterized."
Both the chief and union say the truth will come out in court.
Corey was called to the dean's office on Jan. 11 for questioning related to an allegation of criminal wrongdoing, according to a lawsuit filed May 24 on behalf of his parents, Douglas and Maureen Walgren of Naperville.
The suit, which seeks $5 million in damages, accuses Heun and Naperville North deans James Konrad and Stephen Madden of questioning the high school junior without reading him his rights to have a lawyer and to remain silent. It says they failed to immediately call the boy's parents and acted with "intent to cause Corey extreme and excessive psychological distress and fear."
The suit claims Corey left school and walked off the fifth story of a downtown Naperville parking deck after the officer and deans falsely told him they knew he possessed child pornography and would need to register as a sex offender.
Such tactics, including "alarmingly reckless and false statements" made to Corey that "literally scared him to death," ignored legal rights of parental notification and assistance of counsel, attorney Terry Ekl said in a statement released with the lawsuit.
But the police union says a thorough investigation into the events of that day concluded that Heun, a resource officer at the school, followed proper laws and procedures.
"In spite of that, people who are looking for someone to blame are pointing their fingers at Officer Heun," the union said. "This is making a terrible situation even worse."
Ekl on Thursday called Heun's actions "disturbing."
"He was required to notify Corey's mother before any questioning occurred; he didn't do that. He was required to give Miranda warnings, and he didn't do that," Ekl said. "If he followed the procedures of the Naperville Police Department, then the procedures he followed violated state law."
The union said it fully supports Heun as the Naperville community grieves the loss of a student who is described in the lawsuit as an honor role recipient with no past disciplinary history.
"It is a profound tragedy when any young life is cut short, and our thoughts and prayers remain with the family and friends of Corey Walgren," the union's statement said. "His untimely passing has many searching for answers, but it would be a terrible disservice to this young man's legacy to use his final moments as a reason to foment hatred."
Although the Walgren family's lawsuit raises plenty of questions, police Chief Marshall said he can't provide details of the investigation because it involves minors whose identities must be protected.
The suit has been transferred from DuPage County court to federal court at the request of the city of Naperville, which is named as a defendant along with Naperville Unit District 203.
Ekl said he plans to file a request Friday to obtain unredacted copies of police reports and to visit the school to conduct an inspection before a scheduled remodeling project changes the front entrance and the office area where Corey was questioned.