CHICAGO — A veteran Chicago police supervisor is the third city cop this week to be arrested on allegations that he used excessive force in an on-duty incident, authorities said Thursday, accusing him of shoving a flashlight between a clothed teen’s buttocks in February.
Lt. Wilfredo Roman, a Chicago cop since June 2000, was charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct, both felonies, according to Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
At a bond hearing Thursday for Roman, where he was ordered released on his own recognizance, prosecutors said the officer “shoved” a flashlight between the buttocks of a 17-year-old suspect in February, after he was handcuffed and over his clothing, and saying, “That’s what you get for carjacking.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Mary McDonnell said the incident took place as police were arresting the 17-year-old, identified only as “Z.K.”, and a second teen, 16, on North LeClaire Avenue after a foot chase.
After allegedly carjacking a man at gunpoint and taking his Mazda, the teens were spotted by Roman, who radioed in to report that they had fled on foot and he was chasing them but could not get over a gate.
Other officers caught up to Z.K. in an alley, where he allegedly tossed a handgun while trying to climb a fence, McDonnell said. An officer gave the teen verbal commands to surrender, and he then raised his arms and got on the ground. While being handcuffed, Z.K. yelled at the officers that the handcuffs were too tight.
As the arresting officer loosened the cuffs, Roman allegedly walked up and yelled at Z.K. to shut up and then “shoved his flashlight between Z.K.’s buttocks,” McDonnell told the judge.
McDonnell told the judge the teen “yelled out when the flashlight entered his buttocks.” McDonnell said the teen was clothed when asked for more details in court by Cook County Judge Arthur Wesley Willis, who set bond.
The incident was captured on officer body cameras.
Roman’s lawyer, Jim McKay, contended there was no injury to the teen, as he was clothed and wearing a coat during the alleged incident.
“This is a spank or a spanking, for the love of God,” McKay said. “I had nuns that treated me far worse.”
McKay also noted that Roman, 44, a father of two who is engaged to be married, has never been disciplined by the Chicago Police Department.
The Chicago Police Department issued a statement on the case Thursday without addressing the specifics of the allegation.
“Last night, Lt. Wilfredo Roman of the Chicago Police Department surrendered for arrest to members of the Department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs at the 1st District Police Station,” the statement said. “The Cook County State’s Attorney has since approved felony charges for Aggravated Battery/Public Place and Official Misconduct/Fail Perform. These charges are related to an on-duty incident that occurred on February 9, 2021 in the 1900 block of N. LaCrosse (25th District). Upon learning of the incident in July, the department promptly relieved Roman, 44, of police powers. He could face additional disciplinary actions pending the outcomes of the criminal and administrative investigations.”
Roman is a tactical lieutenant in the Grand Central patrol district on the far West and Northwest Side. Sources said he has been under investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability for a use-of-force incident this year.
The charges come the day after two other Chicago cops had court appearances for the alleged beating of a 17-year-old boy who they were trying to arrest earlier this year on the South Side after a car chase.
Grand Crossing District Officers Jeffery Shafer and Victor Guebara were charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct in that case. A Cook County judge ordered them released on their own recognizance.
Roman’s arrest now marks at least the fourth time since early August that a Chicago cop has been arrested on felony charges. On Aug. 5, Officer Melvina Bogard, 32, was charged with shooting a man during a long struggle on the Grand Avenue platform downtown last year, scattering Red Line commuters at rush hour.
Bogard was the first cop in about five years to face charges in Cook County stemming from using a gun while on duty.
Records show that Roman has been sued over allegations of misconduct at least three times over the past decade, all before he became a lieutenant, including by a man who claimed he was shot and seriously wounded by police during a foot chase in August 2011.
The plaintiff in that case, Richard Keeler, alleged in his suit filed in U.S. District Court that Roman and at least three other officers chased into an enclosed stairwell on the 900 block of North Parkside Avenue “without good cause,” then shot him twice.
One shot took off his right pinkie finger while he was blocking his face, and the other went into his chest, according to court records.
The suit did not specify which officers allegedly fired their weapons.
The lawsuit alleged Keeler was unarmed at the time of the shooting, and that the officers, realizing they’d made a mistake, “knowingly and maliciously gave false information to police investigators” after the shooting, leading to his arrest on charges of aggravated assault.
The lawsuit was settled for $200,000, records show.
Roman was named in another federal lawsuit alleging officers had kicked in the door of a Logan Square apartment with guns drawn in January 2008 and conducted a warrantless search. That suit was settled for $18,000, records show.
Most recently, Roman was named in a lawsuit in Cook County in 2015 alleging he and other officers drew guns on a man and his brother and arrested them without cause in November 2013. When one of the brothers asked Roman why they were being mistreated, Roman allegedly kneed him in the abdomen, according to the suit.
The victim, Edward Matthews was jailed for months awaiting trial and was eventually found not guilty. The lawsuit was settled for $60,000.