Despite insisting for two months that Fox Lake Police Captain Joe Gliniewicz had been killed in a brutal ambush as a victim of the fabricated “War on Police,” his fellow officers suspected he had killed himself from the moment they came across his body last September.
After all, there was plenty of evidence to suggest it was a suicide and hardly any evidence to suggest it was a homicide, according to newly released investigative reports.
But the reports state the only reason the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force decided to pursue the homicide angle was because one female officer told investigators she believed Gliniewicz was too vain to kill himself.
That statement came from a sergeant who didn’t even like Gliniewicz, a man according to initial media reports, who was loved by everybody.
Fox Lake Police Sergeant Dawn Deservi, who had known Gliniewicz since she was a 15-year-old Explorer during the 1990s, told investigators he was a bully who was not even allowed to be alone with female officers while on-duty because of his tendency to sexually harass them.
But Fox Lake police officer Russell Ebbing said he began approaching the shooting scene after hearing Gliniewicz on the radio saying he was chasing three suspects.
He said he heard a single gunshot, then came across the body.
He also said he purposely turned off a video recorder on the way to the scene “because he remembered that the memory could fill up fast.”
The report does not state whether it was a dash cam or body cam, nor does it challenge Ebbing’s weak excuse for turning off a camera on his way to an unpredictable situation when he had it turned on doing his routine police shift driving around the sleepy town of Fox Lake.
He also said Gliniewicz’s right arm was lying in an upward angle and his fingers were positioned as if he had just shot himself, even though the gun was lying a few feet away.
And Fox Lake police officer Shane Campion, who also drove out to the field after hearing Gliniewicz’s report on the radio, also said he heard a single gunshot before finding the captain’s body.
He also said he did not hear any voices or sounds of people running before or after that single gunshot.
Then there was Lieutenant Mark Schindler, who upon finding Gliniewicz’s body, began to ask, “why, Joe, why?”
Officer Richard Howell, another Fox Lake cop who responded to the scene, told investigators that Gliniewicz “had a reputation for messing things up around the police department.”
He also said he heard a single gunshot before coming across the scene but did not hear any voices or see any movement.
But then later in the interview with investigators, he spontaneously blurted out, “This is not a suicide. Joe will not kill himself.”
Nevertheless, none of the responding officers bothered to take cover or begin searching for suspects until more than an hour later when search dogs were brought to the scene. And that search only lasted about an hour.
It was only then that they called in multiple agencies to begin a massive manhunt, which lead to a national media frenzy about the War on Cops and a two month “investigation” that cost more than $300,000, according to the Chicago Tribune.
So how could they have been so easily mislead?
A Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman told the Chicago Tribune this week that the reason they ruled out suicide despite the evidence pointing to a suicide was because of something the coroner said.
The interviews with the first officers on the scene did not create any major leads, Lake County Sheriff’s Detective Chris Covelli, a spokesman for the task force, said Monday. The officers’ accounts were a “piece of the puzzle,” Covelli said, but what Gliniewicz said on the radio about chasing suspects and other evidence outweighed the initial conflicting perceptions, which included the dead officer’s tension with a new village administrator.
The position of Gliniewicz’s hand was discounted by the task force after the coroner’s office said “the hand was in a normal resting position and did not play a factor in determining the cause or manner of death,” Covelli said.
However, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd told CBS Chicago in November that he suspected it was a suicide from the very beginning.
From the start, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd says, there were red flags in the death investigation of Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Gliniewicz.
“What I noticed was two striking things,” Rudd tells CBS 2’s Brad Edwards in his first interview since last week’s bombshell about a bad cop who staged his own suicide to look like murder.
“There was absolutely no defensive wound whatsoever,” Rudd says of the officer’s body.
The other suspicious factor: “His uniform was in roll-call order, which is rare in a struggle. There was only a little mud on his knees.”
Fifty-two-year-old “G.I. Joe” Gliniewicz radioed the morning of Sept. 1 that he was pursuing three suspects. Colleagues found him moments later, in a remote area, fatally shot by his own weapon. A manhunt began for the suspects, and Gliniewicz was given a hero’s burial. No suspects were arrested.
Right away, things did not sit right with Rudd.
“The fatal shot to the left chest was 2 inches under the upper collar of the bullet proof vest, and that made no sense whatsoever,” the coroner says. “So, how does someone get that close to him and shoot him? And he being a trained Army reservist didn’t fight it off.”
And you may recall how Lake County Crimes Task Force members blasted Rudd in the media early in the investigation for even suggesting such an idea.
Instead, the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force fed the country lie after lie about this incident, not only painting Gliniewicz as a hero, spending thousands on a funeral attended by thousands from across the country, but fueling the imaginary War on Police to further their agenda.
But we now not only know Gliniewicz was a scoundrel, but that the entire task force has just as little credibility.
So can we really expect it to conduct a legitimate investigation into Wednesday’s Zion police shooting death of a man who had been photographing schools?