Rockford's mayor and police chief met Tuesday with people who are calling for a federal investigation into the deaths of Officer Jaimie Cox and Eddie Patterson. Both were killed in the aftermath of a traffic stop Nov. 5.
The meeting was a result of a march on City Hall Monday by Patterson’s family and supporters, who fear the investigation is biased. Rev. Melvin Brown said he’s planning more protests because he doesn’t trust the Winnebago-Boone County Integrity Task Force to investigate fully.
“As far as I know, Officer Cox was a good man. As far as I know, Eddie Patterson was a good man,” Brown said. “Now ‘til the facts come out, which will be truth, that’s why we want a federal investigation.”
Brown referred to the massive police funeral for Officer Cox that took place Saturday, adding, “Just like many officers came to this city for Officer Cox, we want many people to come to this city for Eddie as well.”
Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea said he does not think a federal investigation is needed at this point. But he added it’s up to Winnebago County States Attorney Joe Bruscato.
“At the end of the day, he gets the information from the Integrity Task Force,” said O’Shea, “and he decides the outcome of all the cases. I have nothing but respect for all their integrity and their decision-making.”
Others at Tuesday’s meeting wanted to know why there was no dashboard camera in Cox’s squad car, which could have made the investigation into how Cox became entangled in Patterson’s car easier. O’Shea said the city can’t afford the cameras, at $5,500 per car.
A friend of Patterson’s announced he is raising money to purchase dashboard cameras for the police. O’Shea said, “If people want to donate money toward that, for that specific endeavor, that’s fantastic! We’ll put cameras in all of the cars.” O’Shea says body cameras for officers would cost another $2 million.
Some saw Tuesday’s meeting as an opportunity to open a new conversation about racism in Rockford: Cox was white and Patterson was black. Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara acknowledged the problem of racism in his city and said people need to “use awful times like this to make our city better.” He said a proposal will be introduced to City Council to create a Human Rights Commission that will address issues like racism.
Rev. Brown will host a meeting next Tuesday at his church, Kingdom Authority Church, to plan more protests. He also wants to request the help of Attorney General Lisa Madigan for a federal investigation.