05:20 GMT05 July 2020
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    An officer with Illinois' Forest Preserves of Cook County resigned Wednesday after facing public backlash over his failure last week to help a woman who was being harassed for wearing a shirt with the Puerto Rican flag.

    Officer Patrick Connor's departure from the force was announced by the Forest Preserves of Cook County via their social media pages. A Wednesday tweet by the agency announced that "effective today," the officer "no longer serves in the police department of the Forest Preserves of Cook County… But that isn't where our works ends."

    Timothy G. Trybus, the man who berated Irizarry over her shirt, was charged on Thursday with two counts of felony hate crime. The new charges are in addition to the previous misdemeanor charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct.

    The department addressed the matter of their officer further on Thursday by releasing an official statement and holding a press conference.

    "As we announced last night, Officer Patrick Conner no longer serves in the police department of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. He resigned late in the day yesterday, while our investigation was still underway," General Superintendent Arnold Randall said in the statement. "But, to be clear, Conner was not allowed on patrol duty immediately following the incident. Further, his personnel file will reflect that this officer did not resign in good standing, with a note indicating he left the district with ‘discipline pending.'"

    "I am sincerely sorry this happened. I've seen the video, and I am outraged that this would happen anywhere, but especially sad it happened in our Forest Preserves," the official added after thanking the other cops that did actually intervene.

    It should be noted that the officer's last name has been spelled as both "Conner" and "Connor."

    The June 14 incident caught the attention of many after it was posted on Facebook by Mia Irizarry, the parkgoer who was being harassed for her shirt. Footage shows Trybus verbally harassing Irizarry at Caldwell Woods, a Forest Preserve park near Chicago, where she was planning to celebrate her 24th birthday.

    "You should not be wearing that in the United States of America," Trybus tell Irizarry while pointing at her shirt. "Are you a US citizen? Are you a United States citizen? If you're an American citizen, you shouldn't be wearing that shirt in America."

    After asking Trybus to back away from her, Irizarry walks away and attempts to get the attention of Conner.

    "Officer, officer, I feel highly uncomfortable," she says. "Can you please grab him? Please. Officer?"

    Conner walks away.

    "As you can see the police… he's not even grabbing [Trybus]," Irizarry is heard saying. "This guy is just walking up to me, basically got in my face and damn near almost touched me."

    Though Trybus continues to confront Irizarry for her shirt, the altercation doesn't end until another man steps in and tells the harasser to back off.

    "That officer did absolutely nothing," Irizarry says while focusing the camera on Conner. "He did absolutely zero. I told him I felt uncomfortable multiple times… he did not do anything."

    A second officer on the scene eventually intervenes, asking for Trybus' ID.

    Moving forward, Randall indicated that the department will be working with the community to improve the way officers are trained to handle situations and to create a more inclusive environment.

    "We need to think seriously about the rash of racially-charged, abusive incidents we're seeing throughout the country. We all need to stand up to this behavior," the official stressed. "These angry outbursts and attacks don't represent our values and are NOT representing who we are as a country."

    Despite Conner's resignation, the department is continuing its internal investigation of the incident. A separate investigation by the office of Illinois State Attorney Lisa Madigan is also ongoing.


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