Felony hate crime charges have been filed against the finger-pointing loudmouth who harassed a woman over her Puerto Rico shirt in a viral video showing a Cook County Forest Preserve police officer standing idly by.
The notorious encounter drew condemnation Thursday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives as Rep. Luis Gutierrez tied the episode to President Donald Trump.
Timothy G. Trybus, who had initially faced misdemeanor charges of assault and disorderly conduct for his June 14 tirade against Mia Irizarry, was re-arrested Thursday and now faces two felony counts of hate crime, Cook County prosecutors said.
A parade of officials had been calling for the charges to be upgraded, including Gutierrez, who said during a speech on the House floor Thursday that Trump’s “bullying” and “bigotry” fueled the flap.
“When our president calls Puerto Ricans lazy and expensive to help, it hurts our nation,” the Northwest Side Democrat said. “When he calls Mexicans rapists and murderers or calls refugees fleeing violence with their children ‘illegal immigrants’ . . . it filters down.
“Maybe the president is just reflecting back the fear, anger, and misunderstandings of the voters he wants to mobilize. But all of the lying, the hostility, and the racism is clearly taking a toll on our country,” said Gutierrez, who told the Sun-Times earlier this week that the officer who stood by during the incident — Patrick Connor — was “almost an accomplice in the abuse.
Earlier Thursday, Connor’s boss, Forest Preserve Police Chief Kelvin Pope, said that Connor shared his thoughts about the episode in a face-to-face conversation they had while Connor turned in his resignation Wednesday — the day before Connor was set for a disciplinary hearing.
“He was very remorseful and he just considered it being a really unfortunate incident where he really wasn’t given a fair shake,” Pope said at a news conference.
Arnold Randall, the general superintendent of the Cook County Forest Preserve District, wasn’t buying it.
- Text: Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s House speech on the Forest Preserves confrontation
- Man who harangued woman in Puerto Rico shirt — and cop who stood by — identified
“Although he clearly has an opinion about what happened and he thought he took the appropriate action that day, we vehemently disagree that he took the appropriate action . . . he should have stepped in much sooner.”
Connor didn’t explain to Pope why he didn’t intervene in the confrontation, nor did he do so in his resignation letter.
Details on whether the incident and his resignation in the face of discipline will affect Connor’s eligibility to receive a pension were not immediately available, Randall said. A spokeswoman for the pension fund said policy precluded her from sharing details about Connor’s pension eligibility.
The fact that Connor resigned under pending disciplinary proceedings will be noted in his personnel file — a red flag that means he can never be re-hired at the forest preserve, Arnold said.
In the video, Connor watched as Trybus badgered Irizarry, asking “Are you a citizen? Then you should not be wearing that,” and “I would like to know is she an American citizen? Why is she wearing that s—?”
Irizarry, who has declined interview requests since the video went viral, said during a Facebook Live-streamed conversation with a friend on Tuesday that she “was genuinely fearful for what could’ve happened to me.”
“I knew at that moment that I was really being treated like a minority in that situation. . . And if I had acted out in an aggressive way, in a defensive way just to protect myself from being put in harm’s way, I probably would’ve been criminalized by the officer.”
“We should be able to depend on a police officer to help control a situation, and to help step in and to really protect and serve like they say they are,” she went on. “I know that there are so many good cops out there. But you really never know until you encounter one.”
Irizarry had rented the forest pavilion at Caldwell Woods for her 24th birthday. After the ordeal, county officials refunded the cost of her permit and gave her passes to Brookfield Zoo.
Irizarry called the international response to the video “mind-blowing.”
“I’m thankful that it was recognized as wrong. I really do appreciate that,” she said, adding that she hopes it becomes “a learning experience for everybody.”
“This could have easily been avoided had he just known that, yes, Puerto Rico is a part of the United States . . . Whether it’s racism or not, educating yourself is just so important to these battles.”
Trybus is scheduled to appear in bond court in Skokie Friday afternoon.
Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia applauded the state’s attorney’s office for the enhanced charges but called for better training of county employees.
“This incident is another reminder that as government officials and community members, we must continue to stand against injustice of all forms in the volatile climate our society is experiencing,” Garcia said in a statement.