Client in Peoria County was forced to resign from the police department in exchange for dismissal of charges, lawyer says
An attorney for former Peoria police officer Troy Parker contacted the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission about potential ethical violations committed by the county’s top prosecutor.
Duncan Cooper said Thursday he sent his file to the ARDC regarding Peoria County State’s Attorney Kevin Lyons, who he maintains forced Parker to retire from the department.
"He had to give up his job and any chance for back pay and any claim against the city in exchange for a dismissal," Cooper said. "If Kevin Lyons can do that, then he can do it to a physician, any guy on the street, the head of Local 974 or the head of Caterpillar Tractor Co.
"It’s irresponsible. I think that at some point, he should have known that he lacked the probable cause to continue with the prosecution of Troy Parker. Ultimately, this was not a criminal prosecution but a criminal persecution."
Lyons was out of town Thursday at a prisoner review board hearing in Chicago and could not be reached for comment.
James Grogan, an attorney with the ARDC, said he could not comment if a complaint had been filed against Lyons.
He did say Lyons, a member of the Illinois bar since 1981, has never been disciplined by the commission and is not the subject of a pending public proceeding.
Cooper’s words come three days after Lyons’ office unexpectedly dropped all charges against Parker, who had faced counts of reckless homicide and aggravated operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol in connection with a fatal boat accident involving his 25-foot motorboot and a barge in June 2006.
Two defense experts and one expert for the state concluded Parker was not operating the craft when it slammed almost head-on into a barge moored on the Peoria side of the river, across from Creve Coeur. Passenger Damon Teverbaugh, 43, of Peoria died the day after the crash from his injuries. Another passenger, Tammy Warnke, 30, of East Peoria suffered head and lung injuries.
"There is not a lick of logic to any of this," he said on Tuesday to the experts’ conclusion that Warnke was the driver. "To suggest that Tammy Warnke was the driver of this boat, when she had never driven a boat in her life, is disingenuous."
Lyons has said he is completely sure that Parker was in control.
Parker didn’t want to talk to reporters, Cooper said, but authorized him to lay out what they believed the facts were in a four-page letter. Rather than being the driver, Cooper said the experts all agree Parker was in the back of the boat, which is why he was least injured. The seat cushions protected him, in part, from the force of the crash, the attorney contends.
Among the items he focused on was the boat’s bent steering wheel. Cooper maintains whoever was operating the boat would have suffered serious injuries, which Warnke did. Parker suffered only a minor head injury and a concussion.
Blood belonging to Warnke was found on the driver’s side, Cooper sai, a fact he claims Lyons ignored. Rather, the attorney contended Lyons based his case upon the notion that a witness saw Parker launch the boat and leave the dock. Illinois Department of Natural Resources reports state that occurred 10 minutes before the accident; Cooper said the witness testified in a deposition that it was 35 minutes before the crash.
Had all these factors been considered, Cooper said, his client wouldn’t have faced charges. Instead, his reputation as a "bad cop" led Lyons "to completely disregard the evidence and let his emotions run away from him."
The reason Parker resigned, Cooper said, was partly economic. Parker had been out of work for nearly two years and could not afford a trial. Beyond that, Cooper said, there’s always the chance of a conviction.
Andy Kravetz can be reached at (309) 686-3283 or email@example.com.