Man who harangued woman for Puerto Rico shirt—and cop who stood by—identified
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One man has come to be known as the anonymous finger-pointing loud mouth in a blue tank top. There’s also the cop who stood by as the man berated a woman for the simple act of wearing a shirt with a Puerto Rican flag.
They became famous Monday after a video of the incident at a Northwest Side forest preserve was posted to social and media went viral.
And on Tuesday, officials identified both.
The man accused of unleashing the anti-Puerto Rico rant is Timothy G. Trybus.
Forest Preserves police Chief Kelvin Pope said the officer is Patrick Connor, a 10-year veteran of the force.
The angry rant made headlines and was viewed millions of times on social media, catching the attention of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who apologized to the victim, and the governor of Puerto Rico, who tweeted, “This is not the America we all believe in.”
Trybus, 62, was charged with assault and disorderly conduct in connection to the June 14 incident, according to an arrest report released Tuesday by the Cook County Forest Preserves Police. He was drunk at the time, the report states.
The video, viewed about two million times, is also notable for the Forest Preserve police officer who stood by and watched the tirade but did nothing.
In a Tuesday afternoon news conference at the Cook County Building in the Loop, Forest Preserves Deputy General Supt. Eilieen Figel said the investigation into the officer is “ongoing” but promised “disciplinary actions will be swift” when the probe is completed.
“We’ve seen the video and it is very disturbing,” Figel said.
Connor has been assigned to desk duty while his actions are investigated.
In the video, shot at the Caldwell Woods Forest Preserve on the Northwest Side, Trybus can be seen approaching the woman, Mia Irizarry, and asking her about her shirt and her citizenship status.
Irizarry had rented a forest preserve pavilion for a birthday party and was issued a permit for the event.
“Are you a citizen? Then you should not be wearing that,” he said. “I would like to know is she an American citizen? Why is she wearing that s—?”
Irizarry posted the 36-minute video to her Facebook page on June 14.
“You’re not going to change us,” Trybus added. “The world is not going to change the United States of America. You should not be wearing that in the United States of America.”
On several occasions she called out to the officer who was first on the scene, telling him how uncomfortable she was with the man harassing her.
“I do not feel comfortable with him here; is there anything you can do?” she asks, to no avail.
Eventually, more officers arrived and the woman was able to file a police report.
The confrontation drew the attention this week of Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico.
He took to Twitter hours after the video went viral and called for the officer to be fired.
He called out Preckwinkle specifically to deal with the situation.
Rossello Tweeted: “I am sure @tonipreckwinkle will take matter into her hands as justice and diversity have been central to her exemplary career.”
Preckwinkle issued a statement later Tuesday, saying she had spoken with Rosselló.
“I expressed my regret over the June 14 incident in the Caldwell Woods Forest Preserves and assured him that what is shown in the video does not represent our values in Cook County,” she said. “I assured him that disciplinary action regarding the Forest Preserves police officer will be taken upon conclusion of our investigation.”
Earlier, Preckwinkle addressed the matter after an unrelated news conference.
The officer “should have intervened,” Preckwinkle said.
She went on: “We intend to use the video in future training exercises for our officers. And we want to ensure everyone that the Forest Preserve District will be a safe and welcoming place for all.”
“I apologize to the young woman who had this terrible experience. I’m troubled by the response of the initial officer at the scene.”
The Forest Preserves Police answer to Preckwinkle. And Pope echoed his boss’s belief.
“The officer should have stepped in, and he should have done something,” Pope said.
Connor has been disciplined in the past for working a part-time job, and not carrying proper identification, according to Pope, who said his department opened an investigation into Connor’s response the day of the incident, and that Connor was placed on desk duty June 24.
“There also needs to be due process to understand the entire context of what happened, including some things that are not captured on that video,” said Figel — who wouldn’t comment on what might not have been recorded, citing the pending investigation.
Pope said Connor called for assistance on his radio. Two officers and a sergeant arrived at the park just before 2 p.m., according to a police report taken by one of the other officers.
Connor had another man in handcuffs “related to a different incident” when the assisting officers arrived.
Irizarry told the officers Trybus “approached her and made rude comments” while she was setting up for a picnic, and then Trybus “got in her face while pointing a finger at her,” the report says.
The woman said “she felt scared and threatened,” and the officers put him in a squad car “because he was intoxicated and being uncooperative by shouting obscenities,” the report says.
Trybus “did not deny that he had an argument with the complainant but would say nothing more on the matter,” according to the report.
Dennis White, chief attorney for the forest preserves, said it was possible charges against Trybus “could be updated” as a hate crime, and their office was in contact with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
No one answered the door Tuesday evening at a Northwest Side address for Irizarry listed in public records.
No one answered the door Tuesday evening at Trybus’ listed address, an Edison Park duplex with an old black and white tomcat lazing in the sun on the steps across the street from Metra UP-Northwest tracks. Neighbors a few houses down the block said they didn’t recognize the man in the video.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez released a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to “investigate to see if federal civil rights charges are warranted.”
“What is even more unacceptable than [Trybus’] behavior is the unwillingness of a uniformed officer to intervene when the woman’s civil rights were being challenged and the man used physical and verbal intimidation,” the congressman wrote.
Gutierrez said he understood this incident “on a gut level because almost exactly the same thing happened to me when I was a freshman in Congress,” recounting an incident when U.S. Capitol police allegedly doubted his status as a representative and wouldn’t let him in the building because he was with his daughter, who was carrying a Puerto Rican flag.
Officials said they had apologized to Irizarry after the incident. They also gave her a refund for the cost of renting the pavilion.
“I believe this officer did not do this duty, and I will not accept anything other than this officer’s termination,” Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo said.
The United States acquired Puerto Rico as a territory in 1899. While citizens of the island can not vote in United States presidential elections, those born there are still U.S. citizens.
Contributing: Rachel Hinton