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Alleged Drunk-Driving Chicago Cop Who Injured Bicyclist Acquitted On Felony Charges

By Jon Graef in News on Mar 15, 2014 7:30PM

Investigation Into Police Misconduct on Election Night

Here's a case that's by no means surprising, but is still absolutely infuriating, especially for the bike community in Chicago: A Chicago cop, who hit a female cyclist near the intersection of California and Wabansia Avenues while he was reportedly drunk driving, then fled the scene of the accident, then allegedly lied about the accident on a police report...was acquitted Wednesday of the more serious charges leveled against him.

According to Streetblog Chicago's John Greenfield, Officer Michael Bergeson was found not guilty of leaving the scene of an accident and not guilty of filing a false police report. Bergeson, however, was found guilty of misdemeanor failing to provide aid and information at an accident involving injury.

Cook County Judge James Linn handed down the verdict. Bergeson, who hit Nina Pilacoutas, was sentenced to a year of court supervision and 30 days community service at a rehabilitation clinic. Bergeson will also have to pay Pilacoutas over $2,000 in restitution.

Here's what reportedly happened:

The crash took place on August 3, 2012, at around 3:25 a.m. Pilacoutas, an artist and bartender, was cycling west home from work with her boyfriend Clayton Meyer when they came to California and Wabansia, a skewed intersection with four-way stop signs. Bergeson was allegedly driving his Ford F150 pickup northbound on California when he blew a stop sign. Pilacoutas went over the hood of the truck and landed face-first on the pavement, suffering a concussion, facial injuries, broken bones in her feet, and bruises on her body. Meyer said the cop got out of his truck and acted confused.

According to Assistant State’s Attorney Lauren Freeman, the driver drunkenly called 911 three times after the crash but did not admit fault, or provide his name or location. He repeatedly hung up on the dispatcher. Bergeson allegedly drove away before the ambulance arrived. Fortunately, he left his license plate at the scene, but when police later traced the number to his residence he didn’t answer the door and his truck was nowhere in sight. Two days later he made a police report claiming that it was Pilacoutas who ran a stop sign and hit his truck.

Greenfield also spoke to lawyer Jim Freeman, who said this: “It’s my experience in the city of Chicago that the authorities don’t seem to take hit-and-runs against cyclists very seriously. The law is clearly written that if there’s an injury and you flee the scene, it’s a felony, but they’re generally not handing out felonies in cases where the victim is a cyclist."

Sounds sadly all too right to us.