Rockford's Independent Newspaper

State’s attorney: Use of force justified in death of Eddie Patterson

Eddie Patterson would have been charged with first-degree murder.

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD – An officer who died in the line of duty last fall was killed because of criminal actions by a Rockford man, Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato announced Thursday, July 12.

Rockford Officer Jaimie Cox was killed Nov. 5, 2017, after he stopped a 1994 Chevy S-10 driven by 49-year-old Eddie Patterson Jr. at the corner of East State Street and Dawn Avenue. Bruscato said evidence uncovered by the Winnebago Boone Integrity Task Force reveals that Patterson gave Cox a false name, likely because his driver’s license was revoked and his plates were expired. Patterson then attempted to flee the scene, tangling the officer between the driver’s side door and the cab of the truck. The vehicle proceeded down Dawn Avenue and crashed into a tree near the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Cox, 30, shot Patterson twice during the exchange, once in the chest and once in the back. Patterson’s body was found in the truck. Cox was thrown from the vehicle and later died at the hospital.

“Patterson’s actions escalated a routine traffic stop to a deadly force situation,” Bruscato said. “(He) drove off with Cox in the vehicle; Patterson became a deadly force assailant. As such, Officer Cox was legally justified under the laws of the State of Illinois and laws of the U.S. Supreme Court to use deadly force in protecting his life.”

Patterson had cocaine and marijuana in his system, Bruscato said, and would have been charged with aggravated driving under the influence had he survived his injuries. He committed the offense of aggravated reckless driving when he sped away, causing great bodily harm to Cox, the prosecutor added.

Patterson would have also been charged with first-degree murder, among other offenses.

“These are the conclusive findings of the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office,” Bruscato said. “This case is a reminder that when a law enforcement officer engaged in his official duties conducts a routine traffic stop, (a driver) should be compliant.”

Had Patterson chosen to comply, Cox would have ended his shift alive, Bruscato said. Patterson would have been arrested for obstruction of justice and driving on a revoked license, likely posted bond and gone home safely to his family.

Patterson was a father of two and worked for a janitorial company contracted by BMO Harris Bank Center. His daughter, Telecia Banks, has since brought a wrongful death suit against the City of Rockford. She’s seeking damages of at least $50,000. The case is scheduled for court July 25. R.

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