By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD — A daughter of a man killed during a traffic stop earlier this month has brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Rockford.
The complaint, filed by attorney Craig Sandberg on behalf of Telecia Banks, daughter of 49-year-old Eddie Patterson Jr., claims the shooting death of her father by Rockford Police Officer Jaimie Cox on Nov. 5 was unjustified. She is asking the court for statutory damages of at least $50,000.
Cox, 30, was also killed. Authorities believe an altercation ensued after he stopped the truck Patterson was driving near East State Street and Dawn Avenue, and that Cox became entangled in the vehicle and dragged. The coroner ruled the officer’s death a homicide by blunt force trauma.
Patterson was driving on a revoked license and the plates on the truck were registered to another vehicle. Exactly how Cox sustained his fatal injuries and why he fired his service weapon is currently under investigation by the Winnebago-Boone Integrity Task Force. Patterson died as the result of gunshot wounds, according to his autopsy report.
Echoing Kingdom Authority Church Pastor Melvin Brown, who led a march through downtown last week, Sandberg told the Rockford Register Star that Patterson’s family is seeking its own investigation.
“The transparency that comes from the lawsuit process should let us know what actually happened,” the attorney said.
Sandberg represented Brown, the Patterson family spokesman, in a lawsuit over the 2009 officer-involved shooting death of Mark Anthony Barmore inside the church. Plaintiffs in the $4 million suit included Brown, his wife, day care staff and children present when Barmore was shot near a basement classroom. The complaint settled for $1.1 million.
Brown has already called for a federal investigation. He said he does not trust the task force to be fair, and that the incident involving Cox and Patterson has already seen a considerable amount of bias, evident by initial news reports that Cox had been shot.
“They came out and said the officer was shot twice,” Brown said. “That was the first story. Then they came back and said he wasn’t shot. Then it was that he was dragged under the truck. Then story changed and somebody said he was found on top of the truck.”
Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea and Mayor Tom McNamara said what while federal involvement is not out of the question, it would not be considered until after the task force makes its ruling whether Cox’s use of force was justified.
Because Cox’s squad car was not equipped with a dashboard camera and Rockford officers do not wear body cameras, investigators are left to review footage from traffic control cameras for clues. Sources told The Times that a camera did capture a portion of the traffic stop, but not what happened in the minutes following. The altercation and how Patterson’s truck came to drag Cox before crashing into a tree approximately three blocks away is not known.
Patterson was found dead inside the truck. Cox was located nearby. He died at the hospital.
“I am not on the side of Mr. Cox, and I am not on the side of Mr. Patterson,” Brown said. “I am on the side of the truth. The community deserves the truth.”
The first hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 15 before Judge Edward Prochaska. R.