Tag: Xavier McCord

Maywood Approves $200K Settlement After Lawsuit Filed By Family of Xavier McCord, Killed by Police in 2012

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December 28, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 10:17 p.m.

During a Dec. 20 regular meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted to approve a resolution authorizing the payment of $200,000 in settlement funds stemming from a lawsuit filed against the Village of Maywood by Erica Williams, the mother of Xavier McCord.

McCord, 20, was killed on Nov. 8, 2012, by Maywood Police Officer Michael Babicz, who along with his partner, Officer Kyle Rice, and Officer Pete Schleich, are named as co-defendants in the civil suit.

According to federal court documents dating back to September, Judge John Lee eventually dismissed Rice and Schleich as defendants in the case.

According to court documents, Babicz and Rice were partners on Nov. 8. At around 4:30 p.m., “they were passing the parking lot behind” an apartment building on the 1800 block of South 19th Ave. when they saw McCord “walking away from the building looking down at his phone.”

When McCord looked up from his phone and in the officers’ direction, he “immediately turned around to enter the apartment building through the rear door.”

Rice and Babicz then followed McCord “to conduct a field interview” of the young man “because of his ‘suspicious’ conduct.”

“The officers do not claim that they had probable cause to justify an arrest or reasonable suspicion to justify detaining McCord temporarily,” court documents show. “Nevertheless, Babicz and Rice decided to follow him into the apartment building.”

According to some Maywood officers who were on the scene, Babicz and Rice went into the building with their guns drawn (“or drew them quickly after entering”), passed by a crowd of people in the building’s stairwell and began running after McCord, “ignoring everyone else.”

According to Babicz’s testimony, he saw a “chrome handgun in McCord’s right hand as he followed him up the stairs.” Babicz testified that McCord turned around and raised the gun “up a little bit.” After ordering him to drop the gun, Babicz testified that he “fired two rounds at” McCord, who fell to the floor.

Rice testified that he saw “a chrome plated semiautomatic handgun … bounce down the stairs” and drop on the landing before contacting dispatch to “report the shooting while Babicz handcuffed McCord.”

According to Schleich, Rice exited the building with the gun before re-entering the building to put the gun back on the landing. Schleich later testified that “it was improper for Rice to remove the gun from the scene; however, Schleich confirmed that the gun he saw Rice bring into the building matched the gun Schleich had seen on the stairs when he first arrived.”

After investigating the shooting, officials with the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit found that the “gun had been removed and replaced” and that “no fingerprints from were obtained from the gun, and the gun could not be tied to McCord forensically in any manner.”

After the state police investigated the shooting, the case was “turned over to the Cook County State’s Attorney, who declined to file criminal charges against Babicz.”

McCord’s mother has insisted that he didn’t have a gun, although, court records show, McCord’s friends, Keontac McKinney and James Bickhem, “could not testify with absolute certainty that McCord did not have a gun.”

However, McKinney said in his deposition that, if McCord had a gun, he would have told him so and Bickhem said that, after wrestling with McCord earlier that day, he didn’t feel a gun on his friend’s person.

In addition, court records show, a resident of the building testified that “soon after the shooting” she saw from her bedroom window “a confrontation between two officers” during which one officer asked, “‘Why did you shoot, you know, we had the building surrounded, he couldn’t go anywhere.'”

The resident added that the confrontation between the officers “almost really got physical” and that a third officer had to intercede.

Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon abstained from the vote to approve the settlement payment because, Brandon said, he knew McCord and his family. Brandon also said that he was at the scene of the shooting shortly after it happened.

This is at least the third police misconduct settlement the village board has approved in the last six months.

In July, the village board approved a $7,500 settlement with Derrick Neal Lewis, who filed a civil rights complaint in 2014. Lewis claimed that he was beaten by Maywood police officers during an arrest in 2013. Officers Babicz and Rice are named in this suit as well.

And in September, the board approved a $35,000 settlement agreement in relation to a man who claimed that he was unlawfully beaten and tased multiple times by Maywood police in 2014 after filming an officer with his camera phone. Officer Babicz is also named in this suit.

At the Dec. 20 meeting, the board also approved $22,000 settlement agreement in relation to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the mother of a minor. Documents relating to that case are not readily available. VFP

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On the Anniversary of Xavier McCord Murder, A Mourning Family Reflects on A Case Full of Irony

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Access and Loyola

By Michael Romain

MAYWOOD, FRIDAY–“I’m saddened and I’m mad,” said the father of 20-year-old Xavier Oneal McCord, who was killed on November 8, 2012, exactly a year ago. McCord’s father, who requested to go by the name Osz, was standing outside of the Maywood police station, expressing his pain to a hurting crowd of about a dozen onlookers keeping vigil. Most of those gathered knew McCord intimately–his mother, siblings, close friends.

That they decided to gather on the corner of 5th and Oak Street, right in front of the police station, was no mere coincidence. McCord’s murder at the hands of a Maywood police officer is still shrouded in a tangled web of mystery, speculation and hearsay. Their presence seemed to be as much a demonstration of protest and complaint as of pain.

According to an official account of the murder given to the Chicago Sun-Times, police responded to an unspecified call at an apartment building in the 1800 block of South 19th Avenue.

“An officer arriving at the scene saw McCord outside the building and attempted to question him, but he ran toward the back of the building, [former Village spokesman Larry] Shapiro said. The officer chased and followed him as he entered the building from a back entrance.

“Inside the building, the officer noticed McCord had a gun and ordered him to drop it. The man then raised the gun toward the officer, who shot him once in the chest […]”

McCord was later pronounced dead at Loyola Hospital at 4:55 pm.

The official version of events, however, doesn’t satisfy McCord’s friends and family members. According to Osz, friends of McCord who were present with him that day insist that he was unarmed. Another family member, who insisted on anonymity, said that the police department’s account of the murder conflicts with the results of the autopsy and the funeral director’s report–both of which suggest that McCord was shot multiple times.

But more pertinent to McCord’s parents, the version of events presented in the media aren’t consistent with the young man they knew from birth. Osz admitted that McCord had his share of issues (“Xavier was your typical black brother”), but he also said, “My son respected the law.”

“He never disrespected our house, which is why it’s hard to understand him going out like that–he was loving; loved by his friends, his brothers…He had just graduated high school. He played football. He loved sports,” said Osz.

One moment in particular that McCord’s father described to illustrate his son’s respect for the law seems, in retrospect, an eery foreshadowing. It involved the television show “Cops.”

“My wife said she and my son looked at ‘Cops’ a lot […] [While watching the show one day], Xavier told his younger brother, ‘Don’t you ever pull out a gun on a police, because they’re prepared to shoot back.'” When asked whether this actually happened, McCord’s younger brother verified the account.

Darrion Orr, one of McCord’s best friends, said that the two were planning on going to school together. “We always shared with each other,” Orr said. “He was real open-hearted.”

McCord’s mother, Erica Williams, said that the case, now being investigated by the State Police, is ongoing. But she knows that there are certain mysteries that may well remain unresolved. McCord’s murder doesn’t vibe with the personality of the young man she said, “Was a hard worker who always wanted to help people.”

This is a case of ironies as thick as a November night is frigid. While remembering his son, Osz had another story.

“One time, Xavier and his friends were passing this old lady who was out raking her leaves. Xavier stopped and helper her out. The lady said he had a good aura about him. Her daughter was a police officer.”

Bill Hampton, whose brother Fred was famously assassinated by Chicago police officers in 1969, stood in the middle of the small crowd lit with electric candles and connected McCord’s death with a much larger travesty that is national in scope.

“I know we have to keep uniting like this […] We have to make the police respect us,” he said before sounding a litany of headlines he’d heard about recently. “Just a week ago, a black man in North Carolina was shot 21 times […]”

The killings, said Phyllis Duncan, President of Mothers of Murdered Sons (MOMS), are so prevalent that the kids “can almost count them on their hands.”

“We must allow our children to live,” said Billy Fowlkes, a minister who was invited to pray at the vigil. “When you run across a child, let him know that you love him.”

“It’s nothing for our children to do but get involved in violence,” said Fowlkes as he pointed to the 200 Building across the street and the recently reopened library to the North, indicting the whole society for McCord’s death–suggesting that this one tragedy is much bigger than troubled young men or the police.

And in times that are short on ready-made solutions, music fill the void. Duncan handed out the lyrics to Boyz 2 Men’s “How do I say Goodbye” and struck the first note. Osz, out of sync with the crowd, said to someone standing next to him, “I don’t know how many times we’re going to sing this song.” VFP

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