Appeals court upholds prison sentence in brutal attack on Vernon Hills woman

Appeals court upholds prison sentence in brutal attack on Vernon Hills woman

A Des Plaines man who brutally stabbed a female co-worker outside a Deer Park movie theater in 2015 will continue serving a 27-year sentence for the crime, an Illinois appellate court has ruled.

Daniel J. Dion, 23, had appealed the sentence, saying Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes discounted evidence in favor of a more lenient sentence, including a history of mental illness.

But the appellate court for Illinois’ 2nd District disagreed, issuing a ruling Friday upholding the sentence.

Dion was convicted by a jury of the January 2015 attempted murder of Vernon Hills resident Katie King outside the Century Theater at Deer Park Town Center.

Dion and King were co-workers who had previously dated, and King had agreed to go to a movie with Dion that night.

Police said Dion planned the attack because, he later told police, she annoyed him and he used the movie as a ruse.

Dion was 18 at the time of the attack. King was 24.

Dion stabbed King 20 to 30 times with a knife while they sat in her car in the theater’s parking lot, leaving her with wounds to her face, neck and chest. King escaped and ran into the movie theater, where employees called police.

Authorities arrested Dion about a half-hour later.

During Dion’s 2016 trial, a clinical psychologist testified he met the legal definition of insanity at the time of the attack because he didn’t truly understand the criminality of his conduct.

Prosecutors argued Dion planned the attack and later pretended to be insane in hopes of avoiding prison.

Dion is incarcerated at the Graham Correctional Center in downstate Hillsboro. He must serve 85 percent of his sentence and won’t be eligible for parole until December 2037.

Published at Mon, 17 Jun 2019 17:13:34 +0000

Owning a business on Chicago's most dangerous block

Owning a business on Chicago's most dangerous block

The 600 block of East 79th Street in Chicago has recorded five homicides since November 2009. Tracy Swartz talked with the owner of Fatal Class boutique on the block about managing her business, here.

Read the full story at

Tesla Driver Appeared to Be ‘Fully Sleeping’ for at Least 30 Miles on Calif. Freeway

Tesla Driver Appeared to Be ‘Fully Sleeping’ for at Least 30 Miles on Calif. Freeway

There are six levels of driver assistance technology recognized by federal highway safety authorities, ranging from a driver performing all the tasks to full automation — the vehicle can do everything under all conditions.

Tesla’s Autopilot feature falls somewhere around levels 2 and 3, partial automation and conditional automation. Both require the driver to at least be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times. 

So when Shawn Miladinovich looked at the Tesla alongside him on the notoriously busy 405 Freeway in Southern California, he was alarmed — the man in the driver’s seat was apparently sound asleep, he said.

“I’d seen it on the news before, I just couldn’t believe I was actually seeing it,” Miladinovich said. 

Miladinovich first noticed the driver on the 405 Freeway in the Orange County community of Westminster and called the California Highway Patrol. About 30 miles later on his way from San Clemente to San Pedro, Miladinovich said the man still appeared to be sleeping.

“I realized he was fully sleeping,” he said. “Eyes shut, hands nowhere near the steering wheel.”

On its website, Tesla says the advanced Autopilot system is designed to help the driver out with driving’s “most burdensome” tasks, enabling the car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within its lane. The company makes it clear: “Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”

Images and video were captured by a passenger in Miladinovich’s car. He said the Tesla driver appeared slumped over with something tied around the steering wheel.

“If his little thing tied around that steering wheel fell off, and he was still sleeping, he would have slammed into somebody going 65 miles per hour,” Miladinovich said.

When the system doesn’t sense adequate torque on the steering wheel, Tesla says the system actually delivers a series of visual and audible warnings to remind the driver. 

No Religious Exemptions for Measles Vaccines

[NATL] No Religious Exemptions for Measles Vaccines

“This helps ensure you are attentive, and that the steering wheel is properly oriented in the event that you need to take over control,” the company says on its website. “If you repeatedly ignore these warnings, then you will be locked out from using Autopilot for the duration of that trip.”

Tesla did not respond to an NBC4 request for comment. The CHP said the driver could be cited, if identified and found.

Published at Sat, 15 Jun 2019 04:01:50 +0000

Bella Thorne Posts Topless Photos of Herself She Says a Hacker Threatened to Release

Bella Thorne Posts Topless Photos of Herself She Says a Hacker Threatened to Release

Actress Bella Thorne posted topless photos of herself on Twitter Saturday that she said a hacker threatened to release, NBC News reports. Thorne, 21, tweeted screenshots of text messages that contained the topless photos, writing, “I’m putting this out because it’s my decision.”

She alleged a hacker sent her her own photos as well as photos of other celebrities. In a statement posted to her Twitter account, Thorne wrote that she was threatened for 24 hours with her “own nudes.”

“I feel gross, I feel watched, I feel someone has taken something from me that I only wanted one special person to see,” she wrote, adding that she was releasing the images to reclaim her power.

Thorne is a former Disney Channel star who has also appeared in films, including “Blended” and “Assassination Nation.”

Published at Mon, 17 Jun 2019 02:30:13 +0000

Inmate says he told police where Maleah’s body was, days before Quanell X

Inmate says he told police where Maleah’s body was, days before Quanell X

HOUSTON, Texas — An inmate in the Harris County jail claims he first alerted Houston Police to the location of 4-year-old Maleah Davis’ body, nearly a week before her remains were found in Arkansas.

David Chalfant and Derion Vence are both housed in the protective custody floor inside the jail.

Chalfant is awaiting transfer to prison on an armed robbery conviction while Vence is charged with tampering with a corpse in connection with Maleah’s disappearance.

Chalfant told ABC13 Eyewitness News that Vence allegedly told him how the 4-year-old girl died.

In the exclusive interview, Chalfant said Vence initially told him, “she died from the flu in her sleep. I told him ‘Nobody’s going to believe that. There are pictures of her walking behind you. She wasn’t sick.'”

“I asked him, ‘Why did you hide the body?’ and he said he panicked because of the time she had fractured her skull before.”

On Saturday, Chalfant said not only was he aware of the location of the remains, but that Vence told him exactly how she died.

“He said she was sitting on his lap and he tossed her off and she hit her head.”

‘She didn’t deserve that’: Maleah Davis’ mom talks with ABC13 about reality of daughter’s death

Chalfant said he then forwarded that information to detectives and has still not received a response.

Social activist Quanell X was credited with getting the confession from Vence which ultimately revealed the location of Maleah’s body.

Chalfant said he is the one who initially gave the location along with a handwritten note he gave to detectives, based on information from Vence shared with him.

‘I hate this’: Maleah Davis’ biological father shares emotional speech before march

“Why did they wait to act on that?” he asked.

Chalfant didn’t realize that by the time the remains were located, the black trash bag containing them had been plowed over by a highway maintenance crew, compromising whatever evidence was there in its entirety.

Visibly emotional, he said, “Do you mean they may not have a cause of death? Does that mean he won’t be charged with murder?”

Chalfant believes Quanell X was brought in to prevent him from qualifying for the reward money offered for finding the little girl.

He said he intended to keep a small portion of the reward, and return the rest to the people who pledged cash to bring her home.

ABC13 Eyewitness News reached out to HPD for a response, however a spokesman said the department does not have a comment on this ongoing investigation.


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Copyright © 2019 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Published at Mon, 17 Jun 2019 00:36:54 +0000

What to See at the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library From ‘The Daily Show’ in D.C.

What to See at the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library From ‘The Daily Show’ in D.C.

Where the forefathers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay wrote anonymous essays and Franklin Delano Roosevelt led fireside chats, President Donald Trump’s preferred way of communicating directly with his fellow Americans is through tweets.

The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library, pulled together by “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” is dedicated to some of the 180 to 280 character messages that shook the world (or, at least, the Twitterverse).

True to “The Daily Show’s” cheeky style — and clear animus to Trump — organizers promised attendees “the library in DC will feature visual installations and a fully interactive, hands-on experience for hands of all sizes.”

The library has already made appearances in several cities and opened on Friday — Trump’s birthday. It’s open through Sunday.

Published at Sat, 15 Jun 2019 17:16:31 +0000

Submit a drawing to the Weather Sketchers Club

Submit a drawing to the Weather Sketchers Club

Hey kids! We’re looking for new members of the ABC7 Weather Sketcher’s Club!

If you are 13 years of age or younger, feel free to draw something weather-related and send it to ABC7 Meteorologist Tracy Butler at ABC7 Chicago, 190 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60601.

Be sure to include your name, age, school and contact information so we can let you know if your drawing is going to be on TV!

Get those markers & crayons busy, and we look forward to seeing YOUR artwork in the mailbox!

Send your artwork to:

Weather Sketcher’s Club
190 N. State Street
Chicago, IL 60601
*Be sure to include a name, phone number, address and age on the back of the drawing.

Published at Thu, 31 Dec 2020 06:00:00 +0000

Stop the violence: Chicago youth programs, resources

Stop the violence: Chicago youth programs, resources

CHICAGO (WLS) — Have you or someone you know been affected by violence in your community? The following is a list of resources in Chicago that are ready to help.

Chicago Youth Programs
CHICAGO PROUD: Chicago Youth Program graduates give back to organization
The mission of Chicago Youth Programs is to improve the health and life opportunities of at-risk youth using a comprehensive approach aimed at developing their capabilities. CYP is an award-winning, innovative program created by Northwestern University medical students in 1984. CYP currently offers services in three under-served communities: Near North/ Cabrini Green, Washington Park, and Uptown. The Cabrini Green Youth Program started in 1984, the Washington Park Youth Program was founded in 1995, and the Uptown Community Youth Program began in 1998.

Dovetail Project
CHICAGO PROUD: Dovetail Project teaches young men how to be fathers
We give young African American fathers – ages 17 to 24 – the skills and support they need to be better fathers for their children and better men in their communities. The group’s objectives are to increase the quantity and quality of time fathers spend with their children, provide the skills fathers need to gain and maintain employment, and ensure fathers enroll in school or begin the process of completing a GED.

Westside Cultural Foundation
CHICAGO PROUD: Ailey Dance Camp provides positive outlet for West Side kids
The Westside Cultural Foundation is an Illinois not-for-profit. It was established in 2012 in an effort to create cultural and educational outlets for the youth, adults and seniors of the West Side of Chicago (specifically Lawndale, Austin and Garfield Park) and to support the Chicago Westside Music Festival.

Chicago Urban League
CHICAGO PROUD: Chicago students’ original opera to premiere at Lyric Opera House
The Chicago Urban League works for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans and promotes strong, sustainable communities through advocacy, collaboration and innovation.

Urban Initiatives
CHICAGO PROUD: Chicago kids prepare for ‘Work to Play Cup’
Urban Initiatives’ mission is to empower Chicago’s youth to become community leaders through academic success, healthy living, and social-emotional learning. The group builds on the inherent power of sports and teamwork to unify diverse stakeholders and strengthen communities.

Community Organizing Family Issues
CHICAGO PROUD: Parents join forces to create peace centers
COFI’s mission is to strengthen the power and voice of low-income and working families at all levels of civic life-from local institutions and communities to the local, state, and federal policy arenas.

Future Ties
CHICAGO PROUD: Chicago police officer is a finalist for CNN Hero of the Year award
Chicago Police officer Jennifer Maddox launched Future Ties in 2011, while serving as a security officer at Parkway Gardens during her off hours. After noticing that young residents often caused trouble because they were bored, she convinced building management to open a basement so she could provide activities for the kids after school. The program has since expanded to operate year round, and Maddox hopes that one day Future Ties will be able to reach all 1,200 kids that live in the complex.

Blackstone Bikes
CHICAGO PROUD: Chicago bike shop also offers youth educational programs
Blackstone Bicycle Works is a bustling community bike shop, offering repairs and sales of refurbished bikes. It is also the only bike shop in Chicago that offers over 150 youth the opportunity to work in a retail setting, to earn bikes and accessories as they learn the art and science of bicycle mechanics, to learn about how a business works, to discover the satisfaction of a job well done, to participate in the civic life of a vibrant community, to be safe and free of the pressures of the streets, and to have fun.

Girls 4 Science
CHICAGO PROUD: Girls 4 Science helps young women find interest in STEM
Girls 4 Science is a non-profit organization that addresses the lack of accessible quality science programs for female youth in the Chicagoland area. The group believes science exposure and increased scientific literacy will equip young women to confidently pursue STEM studies and careers.

South Suburban Defenders
CHICAGO PROUD: Law enforcement and community build bonds on baseball diamond
The South Suburban Defenders is a non-profit baseball team comprised of law enforcement officers and members of the community. The group’s mission is to develop each student-athlete to reach maximum peak performance on and off the baseball field. They believe by having active law enforcement members work with children in the community, the broken relationship between the community and law enforcement can be mended. Through dedication, commitment, hard work, perseverance and faith, future leaders can be developed in the community.

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Angel Corps Network
The Angel Corps is a network of supportive and trained individuals who help people, especially those who are unable to stand by themselves, to navigate the pain and loss of a loved one.

Apna Ghar
Apna Ghar provides emergency shelter and transitional housing, along with a range of supportive services, to survivors of domestic abuse in the Chicago area. All services are free and available to survivors regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin, or socioeconomic status.

A Safe Haven
This not-for-profit foundation that helps renews communities and rebuilds lives. With a holistic approach, the foundation helps to provide services such as affordable housing, addiction treatment, education and job training.

Becoming a Man
Youth Guidance’s school-based counseling and mentoring program that promotes social, emotional and behavioral competencies for at-risk African American and Latino youth from Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods.

Bereaved Parents of the USA
A national non-profit self-help group that offers support, understanding, compassion and hope especially to the newly bereaved be they bereaved parents grandparents or siblings struggling to rebuild their lives after the death of their children, grandchildren or siblings. There are 7 chapters of Bereaved Parents in Illinois.

Blair Holt Peace Alliance
Blair Holt Peace Alliance offers: A support group for 12-24 year olds affected by violence, mentoring, conflict resolution for gangs, drug abuse and bullying, prayer vigils, coordination of marches and rallies, gun violence workshops.

Build Chicago
BUILD works in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods to provide at-risk youth with alternatives to gang activity and violence. Since 1969, they have helped more than 90,000 young people develop their individual competencies, strengthen their commitments to education and lead happier, more productive lives.

Casa Central
Casa Central transforms lives and strengthens communities with a special focus on Hispanics. Our network of services propels a diverse population of all ages toward self-sufficiency and a higher quality of life.

CeaseFire Illinois
This Chicago-based, anti-violence program uses a public health approach to stopping violence by helping to change behavior independent studies have shown that shootings are down as much as 40 percent in Chicago communities where Ceasefire operates.

Center on Halsted (formerly Horizons Community Services)
Since its inception in 1988, The Anti-Violence Project has provided crisis counseling, information and referrals, and legal advocacy to thousands of survivors of violence and discrimination. (773) 871-CARE (2273).

Chicago Area Project
CAP believes that community problems cannot be solved by bringing in outside agencies to “fix” local problems such as delinquency, gang violence, substance abuse, and unemployment. Chicago Area Project is a strong network of more than 40 grassroots organizations and special projects aimed at promoting positive youth development and preventing juvenile delinquency through community-building.

Chicago Citizens for Change (CCC)
CCC’s mission is to reduce youth violence through programs and partnerships that strengthen communities and promote restorative peace-making by supporting families and youth who have experienced loss due to violence.

Chicago Clergy Coalition
The Chicago Clergy Coalition is an interfaith alliance of religious leaders and churches, mosques, and temples throughout the Chicago area united under the motto, “that they may all be one”.

Chicago Safe Start
Designed to bring Chicago based people and programs together to help the healing begin for young children exposed to violence (CEV). Whether you’re the parent or caregiver of a child, an interested citizen, a civic leader or a professional service provider, we can work together to bring the kids back into focus. So every child is safe from the start.

Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office – Victim Witness
The mission of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Assistance Unit is to enhance prosecution efforts by delivering the highest quality of services to victims and witnesses in the areas of advocacy and court support. Our outreach efforts will be immediate, and our response will be respectful, professional, thorough and consistent.

Crisis Center for South Suburbia
The Crisis Center for South Suburbia is a non-profit community organization that provides emergency shelter and other essential services for individuals and families victimized by domestic violence and addresses the societal issues that contribute to domestic violence.

Crosswalk Chicago
Founded at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, CROSSwalk is an effort of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago to engage people of faith and community organizations in addressing the escalating violence against youth in Chicago.

Enlace Chicago
Neighborhood schools fall below state standards. Children play on the streets due to a lack of parks, playgrounds, and green space. Residents must consistently face the violence that sporadically erupts between gangs. Enlace Chicago works to improve these conditions through a preventative and proactive approach that strengthens our families, our neighborhood, and thereby, our city.

Family / Friends against Violent Acts
We have vowed as an organization to do our part and help keep women, men, and children safe from the hands of their abusers. We are fighting to provide a safe haven for the abused so that they can live a lifestyle free of violence. We want people to know that these situations can be prevented and everyone is entitled to live in peace.

Family Rescue
Family rescue dedicated to eliminating domestic violence in the Chicago community by providing comprehensive support services and shelter to victims of domestic violence; particularly to abused women and their children; engaging in advocacy to promote future system change and encouraging prevention through community education.

House of the Good Shepherd
House of the Good Shepherd offers an intensive residential recovery program for women with children who are struggling to overcome the trauma of domestic violence. We promote healing and recovery for the mothers and children we serve, and empower the women to become self-sufficient so they can live thriving lives, free from poverty and violence.

Illinois Council against Handgun Violence
ICHV is the oldest and largest statewide organization in the U.S. working to prevent the devastation caused by firearms. ICHV works on a variety of fronts to educate, raise public awareness, and build coalitions to enact change in laws and behavior.

Illinois Victim Assistance Academy (IVAA)
(IVAA) is to forge a statewide commitment to helping victims of crime rebuild their lives by delivering comprehensive training to victim assistance providers and allied professionals in Illinois.

Kids Off the Block, Inc.
Kids off the block have served more than 2,000 kids as a mentoring site and a safe haven away from the streets. Young people show up at her center for tutoring, job training and field trips.

La Rabida Children’s Trauma Center
La Rabida’s Chicago Child Trauma Center (CCTC) provides direct trauma-focused services for children who have experienced medical trauma or who have been exposed to severe physical abuse, sexual abuse, fires, violent crime, and witnessing domestic violence. The CCTC is the only agency in Chicago that specializes in trauma-focused assessment and psychotherapy for the full range of potentially traumatic events experienced by children.

Little Black Pearl
Little Black Pearl is a state of the art facility in the city where kids can show their work and benefit from the sale of their art. LBP provides a safe environment, positive role models, various creative activities and job training.

Moms Demand Action
Mothers coming together to fight for tougher gun control measures. The group hopes to prevent more moms from experiencing the pain and heartache of those who have experienced the loss of a child.

Metropolitan Family Services – Calumet Center
Metropolitan Calumet has been serving families throughout the Greater Roseland community for more than 50 years. Families struggling with poverty and violence turn to Metropolitan Calumet for vital and supportive services provided by professional, caring staff.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network was established to improve access to care, treatment, and services for traumatized children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events

Now is The Time Chicago
Now is the Time is a city wide initiative inspiring Chicago’s young people to make a difference in their communities and stop youth violence and intolerance. he Chicago Public Library, Facing History and Ourselves, and Steppenwolf Theatre Company join forces to start this conversation in Chicago’s many neighborhoods, along with theaters involved in Now Is The Time to ACT and dozens of other organizations and institutions.

Parents of Murdered Children, Inc (POMC)
POMC makes the difference through on-going emotional support, education, prevention, advocacy, and awareness. Membership is open to those who have been cruelly bereaved by the murder of a loved one. Professionals who are in frequent contact with grieving families are also welcome to join.

Purpose Over Pain
Formed through the Chicago Police Department CAPS program with 7 families that had lost their children to senseless gun violence. The name Purpose over Pain was inspired by these parents relentless pursuit of solutions to gun violence as their purpose as they faced their pain.

Rainbow House
Rainbow House is a not-for-profit agency dedicated to the goal of reducing the incidence of domestic violence and the devastating impact that often goes with it.

Roseland Youth Voices Against Violence
Youth Voices provides after school programs including tutoring and recreation. It’s also a place for young people to take pride in their community, talk to each other about issues that affect them and learn conflict resolution. For more information call Gwen Baxter at (773) 629-8804.

Safer Foundation
Safer Foundation focuses on helping people with criminal records to become employed, law-abiding members of the community.

Sarah’s Inn
Sarah’s Inn is committed to ensuring a violence-free society with guaranteed rights, protection under the law and equal access to services for all women and their families. We believe in the strength of the women and families we serve.

Sheilah A. Doyle Foundation
The Sheilah A. Doyle Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides support and assistance to children ages 7-17 whose parent, legal guardian, or sibling fell victim to homicide. Through our partnership with Comfort Zone Camp ( and our college scholarship program, we believe that we can transform a child’s tragedy into a bright future.

The film is about a boy barely 12 years old, who lives in a world of never-ending violence. To give him back his childhood, we must end the war on our streets. It’s time for action. Step inside his art, his mind, his existence – a world at war.

UCAN Chicago
UCAN strives to build strong youth and families through compassionate healing, education and empowerment. Youth who have suffered trauma can become our future leaders.

United for a Cause
UFAC is a community-based activist organization that provides services and resources to women, children, and families that have been victimized by violent crimes. UFAC works on behalf of women who have lost children and loved ones to violence, inside and outside of the home, and provides support to aid in the healing process from violent crimes such as medical outreach, court proceedings, and much more.

Victim Advocacy Support Program
Victim Advocacy Support Program (VASP) provides comfort and emotional support for victims of domestic violence and other violent crime. VASP guides them as they struggle with the aftermath of transgressions.

Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Published at Sat, 06 Aug 2050 18:24:00 +0000

How Chicago’s New Shareable Scooter Program Will Work

How Chicago’s New Shareable Scooter Program Will Work

After months of discussion and planning, a scooter-sharing program is coming to Chicago on Saturday, and residents undoubtedly have questions about how everything will work with the new mode of transportation.

A total of 10 companies will be involved in the pilot program, which will last through early fall, according to the city of Chicago. During that time, approximately 2,500 scooters will be available for use in the city, but their usage will be tightly restricted.

Here are some of the answers to questions residents will likely have about the devices:

How Will the E-Scooter Program Work?

Much like Divvy bikes, residents will have to download mobile apps in order to use shareable scooters, but unlike the Divvy program, there will be numerous companies operating the devices. Residents will have to use the appropriate mobile app to use a scooter in its designated area.

When Can I Use an E-Scooter?

Scooters will only be permitted to operate between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Where Can I Find E-Scooters?

Scooters can be found in their own designated service areas, and the devices will be “geo-fenced” to prevent them from operating outside of those set parameters. The borders of each device’s usage area will be defined by the company.

What Areas Will be Served by the Pilot Program?

According to a map provided by the city of Chicago, the West and Northwest sides of the city will be served by scooters. The boundaries of the area are West Irving Park Road on its northern edge, the North Branch of the Chicago River and North Halsted on the east, South Cicero Avenue on the south, and the city limits on the western side.

What Will Companies Have to Do to Operate Scooters?

Companies must remove scooters if they’re parked in unapproved spaces (scooters can only be parked where bicycles can legal be parked), and will have to pick up scooters if they are out past 10 p.m.

The city says that scooters must be parked upright, and with a minimum six feet of clearance between the scooters and “public way encumbrances,” according to a fact sheet.

A Scooter is Illegally Parked. What Do I Do?

According to the city, contact information will be available on each scooter, and companies must move scooters that are illegally parked within two hours. That restriction is in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the pilot program.

When Will the Pilot Program End?

The program will start Saturday and end on Oct. 15. After that date, the city will evaluate how much money the scooters generated, whether any problems were caused by the availability of scooters, and whether the program should continue.

For more information, and for a map of the service area, residents are encouraged to visit the city of Chicago’s E-Scooter informational website.

Published at Sat, 15 Jun 2019 15:56:56 +0000

He died after Chicago family took him off life support. Then he walked through the door.

He died after Chicago family took him off life support. Then he walked through the door.

The hospital staff was insistent, but Brenda Bennett-Johnson could not be sure. It was May 13 and Bennett-Johnson and her sister Rosie Brooks were visiting the intensive care unit at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, watching a man struggle for his life. Authorities said they were looking at their brother.

He was confined to a hospital bed, bobbing in and out of consciousness, face beaten beyond recognition, chest rising with breath only due to the ventilator tube snaked down his throat. The man had been brought in after being discovered naked and viciously attacked on April 29.

It had been years since Brooks and Bennett-Johnson had been in touch with their sibling, Alfonso Bennett. And as the sisters recently told WBBM, through the injuries and medical contraptions, they did not recognize the man slipping away at Mercy as Alfonso.

“They kept saying [the Chicago Police Department] identified this person as our brother,” Bennett-Johnson told the station.

Accepting the word of authorities, the sisters kept vigil over the injured man. When doctors said it was time, they signed the necessary paperwork allowing the staff to unhook him from the machines. He quickly passed away, and the sisters started making funeral plans.

Then, amid the family’s grief, a miracle dropped.

A member of the family called to report that Bennett — alive and well — had just walked through her front door.

“I almost had a heart attack,” Bennett-Johnson said.

The sisters’ hunch at the hospital had been correct. Unfortunately, they had signed off on a stranger’s death.

“It’s sad that it happened like that. If it was our brother and we had to go through that, that would have been a different thing,” Bennett-Johnson told WBBM. “We made all kinds of decisions on someone that wasn’t our family.”

The head-scratching case of mistaken identity has now prompted hard questions for Chicago authorities after media reported on the case this week.

“To say that we currently have questions is an understatement,” Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department, tweeted in a response on Wednesday. “We have detectives looking into every aspect of this incident — from the incident response to the circumstances leading to the hospitalization and the notification of family members.”

Incredibly, a similar scenario played out last summer in New York. As The Washington Post reported in January, a woman was alerted in July 2018 by a hospital in the Bronx that her brother was unconscious and suffering from severe brain damage after a drug overdose.

Two weeks later, the sister told doctors at St. Barnabas Hospital to take her brother off life support after they advised her the patient would never recover. Later, the sister learned the hospital had incorrectly identified the man in their care as her sibling. Her actual brother was being held at the time on Rikers Island after an arrest. The mix-up became apparent only after the city medical examiner’s office did an autopsy.

The family filed a lawsuit against St. Barnabas in January.

In Chicago, the false identification that embroiled Bennett-Johnson and Brooks was equally strange.

As the sisters told WBBM, when they first got to the hospital, a nurse told them their brother had been identified through police mug shots. The department had not identified the man through fingerprints because of budget cuts, the nurse said, according to the sisters.

Police sources told WBBM that fingerprinting identification is only used when an individual has committed a crime or is taken to the morgue.

“You don’t identify a person through a mug shot versus fingerprints,” Bennett-Johnson told the station. “Fingerprints carries everything.”

The mistake only surfaced after authorities at the morgue took his fingerprints. He’s still a mystery man. According to WBBM, investigators are now looking for the actual relatives of the deceased.

In a statement to the station, Mercy noted, “The family did identify this patient as their brother.”

Guglielmi, the Chicago police spokesman, said an investigation is underway into what happened.

“I can’t conceive of how a budgetary issue would drive whether or not a person who was a John Doe would be fingerprinted before they’re taken off of life support,” Bennett-Johnson and Brooks’s attorney, Cannon Lambert Sr., told the station. “If that’s the situation, something’s got to be done.”

Published at Fri, 14 Jun 2019 11:36:44 +0000