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Former Metra cop’s cellphone video leads to excessive force charges

Metra train

Sun-Times file photo

A former Metra police officer is facing charges in connection with a 2015 arrest at a downtown train station.

David Robertson, 50, was charged with aggravated battery, perjury and official misconduct, according to a statement from Metra.

The charges stem from an incident on Jan. 15, 2015, when Robertson arrested a suspect at Millennium Station for trespassing, according to the rail agency.

At a preliminary hearing, Robertson testified the suspect started a physical confrontation during the arrest.

When the case was pending, Robertson turned over a video of the incident he had recorded on his cellphone, while awaiting playback of the original surveillance video, to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, according to Metra.

On Nov. 9, 2016, the state’s attorney’s office informed Metra that Robertson might have provided false testimony about the arrest, because the video contradicted his testimony. The video shows Robertson using excessive force.

Metra began an internal investigation and within 24 hours, Robertson and a second officer involved in the arrest were stripped of their police powers and removed from service without pay, according to Metra. Both were fired by Metra on Dec. 28, 2016.

A third officer involved in the arrest was fired for unrelated issues before the internal investigation began.

Robertson was released on his own recognizance after appearing in bond court Monday afternoon.

“As an agency that now prides itself on having a well-run and professional police force, and after our own investigation into the matter, we are disturbed and deeply troubled by this conduct,” Metra CEO Don Orseno said in the statement.

“This conduct is unacceptable to us and will not be tolerated. It is not representative of the culture and standards of the Metra Police Department.”

Metra’s police department underwent a five-year period of reform and modernization beginning in October 2012, which included the hiring of veteran Illinois State Police Chief Joseph Perez to lead the transformation.