Officer hit by driver using phone survived 27 years on the force, only to be killed ‘simply walking home,’ prosecutor says
Ted Plevritis, 62, was driving a Jeep Cherokee on Touhy Avenue Jan. 20 when he allegedly struck retired officer Richard Haljean who was crossing the road at Oriole Avenue, according to police.
A Palatine man was using his phone when he fatally struck a retired Chicago police officer in January on the Northwest Side and then kept driving, Cook County prosecutors said Thursday.
Ted Plevritis, 62, was driving a Jeep Cherokee west on Touhy Avenue around 6:15 p.m. on Jan. 20 when he struck Richard Haljean as he crossed at Oriole Avenue, prosecutors said.
Haljean “survived working 27 years as a Chicago police officer, including work in dangerous and violent assignments,” Assistant State’s Attorney Danny Hanichak said in court. “After all that,” the prosecutor added, he was killed “simply walking home.”
Plevritis didn’t brake or try to avoid striking the father of three before “leaving [Haljean] to die,” Hanichak said.
Plevritis owns an imported food store near where Haljean was struck and was recorded by a private surveillance camera getting into the Jeep and leaving the lot moments before striking Haljean, according to Hanichak.
A doorbell camera that recorded the strike showed the impact shoved Haljean more than 100 feet into the street and caused the Jeep’s license plate to be left at the scene, Hanichak said.
Witnesses who saw the hit-and-run tried to help Haljean, including performing CPR, but Plevritis didn’t stop, call 911, or report the incident, prosecutors and police said.
Haljean, 57, was taken to a hospital by paramedics and pronounced dead.
Plevritis’ cell phone data showed his phone was moving in tandem with his Jeep before and after Haljean was struck, as well as “in the area” at the time of the collision, Hanichak said.
It also allegedly showed the Plevritis was using his phone’s email app at the time Haljean was struck.
Hanichak said the Jeep did not have Bluetooth or hands-free capabilities
Plevritis was also accused of deleting surveillance footage from his own store’s cameras. The footage from those cameras was missing on the day Haljean was struck, but not the day before or after, Hanichak said.
When investigators reached an attorney to set up an interview with Plevritis, they learned he was on vacation in Arizona, Hanichak said. Plevritis turned himself in to authorities after returning from the trip, the prosecutor added.
He faces charges of reckless homicide, failure to report an accident involving a death and aggravated use of a communication device.
Plevritis has never been convicted of a crime, his defense attorney noted in asking Judge Maryam Ahmad to release him on his own recognizance.
Ahmad set Plevritis’ bail at $200,000 with electronic monitoring as a condition of bond.
He was set to return to court March 23.