by Steven Ertelt
December 4, 2007
Des Plaines, IL (LifeNews.com) — A police officer in this Illinois city has been fired over an incident in which he is accused of verbally and physically assaulting and harassing a group of women protesting outside a local abortion business. Dick V. Lalowski, 44, was suspended without pay in October 2006 while hearings on the matter moved forward.
While on duty in May 2006 as a security guard for a Des Plaines abortion business, Lalowski threatened a group of women and told them they could be arrested.
He said arrests would be made if they blocked women from entering the American Women’s Medical Center abortion facility or continued to pass out teddy bears to the women going there. None of the pro-life advocates prevented women from entering the building.
After his shift ended, Lalowski returned to the abortion center in plainclothes and harassed the women despite requests from the next officer on duty to stop.
Lalowski is accused of cursing at the women, ridiculing their faith, and poking one woman hard on the shoulder. One of the women later told authorities she was "filled with fear" over his harassment.
The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners voted unanimously on Monday to fire Lalowski, acting on advice from Police Chief James Prandini.
"This was an important case for us," Prandini told the Chicago Tribune after the vote. "It sets the tone for our conduct. We can’t have officers treat people like this."
"There’s a code of conduct even off duty that the officers are bound to, and the rules and regulations of the Des Plaines Police Department clearly state that," Prandini said.
"I just can’t have a police officer going out and treating the public like he did in this incident—the profanities, the verbal assault with the woman," he told the Tribune.
The board had previously ruled in June that he violated department regulations and policies.
According to the newspaper, Lalowski did not attend the meeting and his attorney Richard Reimer said the officer was disappointed by the decision.
"The guy had a good career here," Reimer said. "I think there could have been another decision short of discharge. They could have given him a lengthy suspension."
Reimer claimed Lalowski was set off by large pictures of unborn children the women had and that it triggered post-traumatic stress syndrome he developed over a 1995 shooting where he killed a suspect.
He didn’t know if Lalowski would appeal the decision but said the conversation he had with the pro-life advocates did not constitute harassment.
The women were represented in the hearings by Thomas Brejcha, an attorney with the pro-life Thomas More Society law firm in Chicago.