Suspect In Cop Killing Speaks Out, Sues City
By Marcus Gilmer in News on Sep 23, 2008 4:35PM
Jason Austin, 26, originally arrested and later released in connection with the August killing of Chicago Police Officer Robert Soto and Kathryn Romberg, is suing the city for mistreatment. In an interview with the Sun-Times, Austin claims that while being questioned, police withheld food from him for three days. While he says he was never beaten by police, he did say they roughed him up when they arrested him: “I just seen them all around me. They grabbed me off the bed, twisted my arm and put the cuffs on.” During the interrogation, Austin stuck by his original claim that though witnesses reported seeing a car resembling his leave the scene of the crime, his car was in the repair shop at the time. He admitted he heard the gunshots but denied having anything to do with the shooting, saying, "I was doing my regular routine, hanging, messin’ with the females."
Chicago Police spokeswoman Monique Bond denied any wrong-doing by officers:
...detectives have conducted themselves in a professional manner throughout the course of this investigation...The department relies on a number of investigative tools such as electronic recording interrogation to ensure investigative integrity, and we will continue to follow the evidence wherever it may lead.Sources also told the Sun-Times that after Austin's release, friends of Austin, including a girlfriend, were intimidating witnesses to recant their testimony, a charge which Austin denied. Still, police have charged Tashianda Howland, 18, and a 16-year-old relative with assaulting another female who is a witness in the case.
The lawsuit filed in court also includes allegations that police beat three of Austin friends who refused to help police build a case against Austin. Austin's lawyer, David Weiner, said, "These police detectives are great detectives but they're angry. And if I were Jason Austin I would not be going back to my home Area 4. Because he could be dropping a piece of gum on the sidewalk and be picked up in the next 25 minutes. So my advice to him, get the heck out of town." Austin agreed:
Everywhere I go, I got to look over my shoulder and got to be worried about what’s going to happen. I can’t live like I was living...I was feeling really blessed at the time [of being cleared of the charges]. I was just thanking the Lord. I’m hoping they get the right person who did this.