Man alleges police abuse

Rockford resident Tom Klonicki alleges that he was abused by police during their attempt to subdue him for transport to medical care for a seizure. A police report and a paramedic on the scene could not confirm his allegation or eyewitnesses’ reports of the incident.

Various discrepancies exist between the police report and several eyewitnesses’ accounts of the incident.

On Nov. 13, Klonicki and co-worker Eric King were installing carpeting on a porch at 125 N. Longwood St., in Rockford. King said that at about 4:30 p.m., Klonicki became unconscious and began shaking, and his eyes rolled back into his head.

Approximately 15 minutes later, Rockford firefighters arrived and administered oxygen to Klonicki, according to King. Apparently, Klonicki regained consciousness but was confused. Firefighters soon called police for assistance in transporting Klonicki to SwedishAmerican Hospital because Klonicki became frightened and physically combative. Klonicki fled on foot to McDonald’s restaurant at 1032 E. State Street. King, firefighters and other witnesses followed Klonicki.

According to the Rockford Police report written by Officer Mike Dalke, Klonicki was “bleeding from the nose and mouth area,” upon Dalke’s arrival. King disputes Dalke’s report, saying, “He (Klonicki) was not bleeding at all at McDonald’s until after Dalke arrived.”

Dalke stated in his report: “I [Dalke] approached firefighter Schwartz and quickly questioned him [Ronald Schwartz] about the incident … after receiving the knee strike

[from Klonicki], I delivered a single closed-fist strike to Klonicki’s right stomach area.”

The report also reads: “According to the communications center, the police responded to assist with a subject having a seizure.”

The report said Klonicki was bleeding from the nose and mouth when Dalke arrived. Dalke also said in his report that he asked Klonicki to settle down several times and that Klonicki was flailing with his legs.

King alleges that after police had Klonicki face down and handcuffed on the pavement, several police repeatedly kicked Klonicki. Dalke’s report makes no mention of any kicks. Jonathan Taylor lives next door to where Klonicki and King were laying the carpet. Talyor said, “The guy [Klonicki] came out of the seizure and was not aware of what was going on. He kept trying to leave. They [the paramedics] were grabbing him by the throat and all this stuff and finally let him go. He ran over into the McDonald’s parking lot across the street. By the time he got over there, the police had arrived.

“I guess he kicked one of the officers in the groin and as soon as he did that, I saw the officer strike him in the stomach. Once he got him down on the ground, they kept kicking and pushing him down,” Taylor said. When interviewed a second time, Taylor said, “I’m not sure if Klonicki was kicked, but I did see him get struck.”

Taylor also said that six to eight officers were on the scene, and that Klonicki was not bleeding before police arrived.

Jeffrey Johnson was visiting Taylor at the time of the incident. He said, “We were all sitting upstairs, when we heard someone call ‘911! 911!’”

Johnson called 911 and reported someone needed assistance. Johnson apparently went to Klonicki and saw him coming out of the seizure. “That’s when he pretty much freaked out. They were sitting there trying to restrain him until the ambulance [paramedic] told him to let him go,” Johnson said.

He said he saw Klonicki run across the street to McDonald’s, at which point, “Police were wrestling with him and holding him up against the glass,” Johnson said. “ Once they hit him in the stomach, he sort of grabbed his stomach and that’s when they kicked him, and held him to the ground.”

Both Taylor and Johnson said the police stated they were going to arrest Klonicki.

Jan Williamson, an employee who was working at the Amoco station in the same complex as the McDonald’s, at the time of the incident, said, “He [Kloniki] had blood on his hand.” She said she could not see the incident because her view was obstructed by the glare from lights on the door.

What appeared to be dried blood was still on the entrance door frame about 5 feet off the ground when The Rock River Times investigated on Nov. 19.

Operations Consultant for McDonald’s, Kim Bowen, said that the manager on duty at the time, Amy Scott, said “No McDonald’s employees witnessed the incident.”

A sign above several tables in the McDonald’s dining area reads: “Rockford Police Official Work Station.”

Three separate McDonald’s managers told The Rock River Times, “We don’t allow employees to speak to the press.” However, the managers were very helpful in going up the chain of command to reach Bowen.

Klonicki told The Rock River Times on Nov. 19 that he still had a bruise on his sternum, and that his wrists were still swollen from the handcuffs.

Klonicki said he could not remember anything between the onset of his seizure to the time he was face down on the pavement at McDonald’s. He said he remembered pressure on his back, being tightly handcuffed, pleading for the handcuffs to be loosened and being transferred to the emergency room at SwedishAmerican Hospital. He said he was strapped face down on the gurney with the handcuffs on, and that police officers twisted the handcuffs in an attempt to bring his legs up to attach his feet to the handcuffs.

“I did stiffen my legs up,” he said.

Klonicki was not charged with any criminal activity in the incident. Klonicki said he may consider filing charges after he reviews the police report.

Lori Keinz, Klonicki’s sister, was called to the emergency room by family members. She said she was glad she was warned that her brother had been in an incident with police because, “If I was just going in to see him because I thought he had a seizure, I would of been freaked out. He was really beat up.”

She also said she was under the impression that the police thought Klonicki was a homeless person because of the way he was dressed for work.

Kienz said: “The police were on the phone deciding whether or not to press charges against Tom, when his wife, Shelia, came in with the baby. When they saw he was a husband with a family, they decided not to press charges. They found out he was a business owner, too. It concerns me if this is the way they treat people of lower income or the disavantaged homeless people all the time.”

Paramedic Gateana Luchini, who was on the scene, returned a call from The Rock River Times and said, “I am not aware that any officers kicked Mr. Klonicki.” He would not describe Klonicki’s condition before police arrived, citing “patient confidentiality.”

Attempts to reach Schwartz, Dalke or officials of the Rockford Police Department for comment on whether or not Klonicki was bleeding before Dalke’s arrival, or if Klonicki was kicked by officers were unsuccessful.

However, Division Chief of Operations of the Rockford Fire Department, Bill Beaman, did confirm that, “I know we had a combative patient that day,” referring to a response to a call at the East State Street McDonald’s on Nov. 13.

Klonicki said this was the first time he had such a seizure. He said he is going in for an EEG. He is taking medication for a previous neck injury that his physician warned could cause seizures. He had been taking the medi-cation for two years with no incident.

Brandon Reid also contributed to this story.

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