NILES, Ill. – The Niles police chief has been placed on leave as the State’s Attorney’s Office conducts an investigation into alleged department misconduct.
The move was due to 22-year veteran officer Nick Beyer, who became a whistleblower to bring the alleged misconduct to light.
“I’m commander of the Niles Police Department currently on leave,” Beyer said, “I’ve had threats of bodily harm, I was placed on administrative leave, was exiled from the department, banned from the property.”
He said it’s all because he shined a light on an incident that many in the department would have preferred to keep in the dark.
Still images from a Niles police officer’s body camera, obtained by WGN Investigates, show officers responding to a situation at a McDonald’s drive-thru in the early morning hours of February 28.
A person was slumped behind the wheel, unresponsive and possibly impaired. Soon, officers recognized the passed-out drive as a fellow Niles Police Department employee.
Beyer said the responding officers tried to cover it up.
“The officers turned off their body cameras which is against the body worn camera act, amongst other policy and procedure violations,” he said.
WGN Investigates has requested police reports and camera footage from the encounter through a FOIA request. But Beyer said the evidence might have been erased.
“Not a single report exists on this incident,” Beyer said.
He said incident logs are the only written record that officers responded. Officials even drove the possibly impaired employee home, which was around 40 minutes, Beyer said.
“Who’s running the town while the supervisors are taking an employee 50 miles away from Niles,” Beyer said.
Beyer accuses police chief Luis Tigera of enforcing “the blue code of silence.”
He was so disturbed by the alleged violations, heh sent a written whistleblower complaint to the village manager.
Outgoing Niles Mayor Andrew Pryzyblo has placed Tigera on administrative leave and written a letter to the Cook County State’s attorney asking for an independent review.
“In my final days, it has come to my attention that my village’s police department has seemingly acted inappropriately and perhaps even violated state statutes,” he wrote.
The Metropolitan Alliance of Police sent a letter to the village saying, “the union demands that his investigation be dropped.” It went on the say the responding officers are being used “as pawns.”
Beyer said he took and personal and professional risk to bring the incident to light.
“I’d rather do the right thing than try to cover something up,” he said.
Village trustees discussed the situation in a closed session meeting tonight. It’s unclear if any or any action they will take.