Driver found guilty of trying to run over Elmhurst cop
A DuPage County jury deliberated for just over an hour Tuesday night before convicting a Chicago man of using his car in an attempt to run over an Elmhurst police officer who was trying to arrest him.
Byron Auterberry, 44, of the 1200 block of Waller Avenue, was accused of aggravated assault of a police officer, aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, fleeing and eluding a police officer, and driving with a suspended license.
Elmhurst officers Alexander Kefaloukos and Brandt Cappitelli testified during the three-day trial that they were attempting to block Auterberry's car and conduct a traffic stop at 4:46 p.m. on Feb. 27, 2018, at southbound York Road and Crestview Avenue after Cappitelli recognized him as a suspect in a theft from Mariano's.
Both officers were in plain clothes at the time of the stop and were driving unmarked police vehicles.
Kefaloukos said he approached Auterberry's vehicle from the front and remained there while Cappitelli approached from behind. Kefaloukos said Auterberry continued to move his Nissan Altima forward in a jerking manner, prompting both officers to draw their service weapons.
"It was as if he was taking his foot of the brake and the car was jumping forward," Kefaloukos testified. "Then the car started accelerating toward me."
As Auterberry accelerated, Kefaloukos fired his service weapon twice through the driver's-side window. Auterberry was hit in the left forearm and right thigh but continued onto 290 East to North Avenue, where he led Northlake officers on a high-speed chase before officers called off pursuit. At one point, prosecutors said, Auterberry reached speeds of 90 mph in a 40 mph residential zone.
Auterberry was arrested the next day on Chicago's South Side.
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin ruled the shooting was "completely justified" in May.
Defense attorneys argued Auterberry did not know the men were officers because of their unmarked vehicles and causal attire and because the men never identified themselves as police as they yelled at Auterberry, who was driving his sister's car with his girlfriend in the front seat and his sister in back.
"Imagine you're hanging out in rush-hour traffic when dark SUVs roll up hot, and next thing you know you're staring down the barrel of two Glock .45s with your girl in the front seat and your sister in the back seat," Assistant Public Defender Michael Sweeney said in his closing argument. "What does instinct tell you? It tells you to get out of there."
Prosecutors argued that Auterberry and "everyone else in that intersection and his vehicle knew Kefaloukos and Cappitelli were cops."
"This defendant would have you believe he thought he was the victim of a strong-armed robbery," Assistant State's Attorney Nicole Wilkes-English said. "(Auterberry) is not the victim here. He created the chaos."
Berlin said he's committed to keeping officers safe.
"My office will do all we can to ensure that police officers are able to do their jobs without having to worry about their personal safety," Berlin said. "The jury's guilty verdict in this case sends the message that in DuPage County we will protect our police officers just as they protect us."
Auterberry's next court appearance is scheduled for March 5, for return of the pre-sentence report.
Auterberry has been to prison nine times since 1998, mostly for retail theft and driving with a suspended license. Most recently in DuPage, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Nov. 17, 2013, for shoplifting razors and deodorant from a Walgreens in Villa Park.