BROOKLYN, Ill. — State and St. Clair County law enforcement raided a southern Illinois police department Wednesday, after a former officer with local ties was accused of taking an assault rifle from the evidence locker.
According to a letter acquired by the Belleville News Democrat from county prosecutor Brenden Kelly to Brooklyn’s mayor, his office would not prosecute cases handled by former detective Chris Heatherly, citing credibility issues with Heatherly as either an investigator or a material witness.
Heatherly, who lives in Clinton County, was previously employed as a police officer by the Wamac Police Department.
Kelly’s letter claims that Heatherly was a detective in charge of the evidence vault, took out of evidence an AR-15 assault rifle that had been seized as evidence in a pending criminal case. He bought a case and sling for the weapon and kept it in his car’s trunk.
Then, says the letter, while on duty, Heatherly posed with the rifle for the police department’s photo calendar.
The letter also said that as of the raid on the police department, the ammunition and suspected controlled substance also seized with this assault weapon have not been located.
Kelly wrote, “While it appears, from the evidence available to my office at this time, Mr. Heatherly had no criminal or malicious intent, I am struck by the fact that he is a veteran police officer who knew or should have known that his actions breached the integrity of the evidence in a criminal case. Mr. Heatherly’s choice to remove a rifle from evidence on a pending case constitutes a flagrant violation of fundamental police protocol and thus creates an irreparable credibility deficit.”
Sources said Heatherly has resigned. Brooklyn Police Chief Steve Mitchell, who brought the case to the attention of prosecutors, declined to comment on the investigation.