Westmont, Illinois -- Date Issued: April 5, 2022
State’s Attorney Bob Berlin has released a statement regarding the December 31, 2021 officer-involved shooting at Laurel BMW Westmont. Following is the complete statement released by the State’s Attorney’s Office:
“Every case involving the use of deadly force by a police officer, whether on or off duty, must be carefully and thoroughly investigated. Such scrutiny is required to ensure the protection of the civil rights of those involved and to maintain the public’s confidence in law enforcement.
After a thorough and extensive investigation surrounding the shooting of a seventeen-year-old juvenile and twenty-three-year-old Angel Martin, which occurred on December 31, 2021, on the property of Laurel BMW of Westmont, by an on-duty Westmont Police Officer, it is my determination that the officer’s actions were justified and no criminal charges will be filed against the Officer.
In reaching this conclusion, my staff and I carefully reviewed the applicable law and thoroughly examined all of the evidence, including but not limited to:
On December 31, 2021, at approximately 4:27 a.m., Westmont Police Officer Robert Arndt, and another officer, responded to a call of a burglary in progress at Laurel BMW, 430 E. Ogden Ave., Westmont. While in route, the officers heard the initial call from the dispatcher identify “2 subjects, both with crowbars trying to break in.” The dispatcher later added “The subjects have now broken a window with a rock.” The two officers arrived in a two-man ghost marked patrol vehicle and observed a white Acura near the service bay doors on the west side of the dealership. As the officers pulled in front of the Acura, they turned on their overhead emergency lights and exited their patrol car with their service weapons drawn. The two suspects, later determined to be the seventeen-year-old juvenile and Martin, who were inside the dealership ran from the dealership to the white Acura and jumped in the car. Officers Arndt and his partner repeatedly yelled at the suspects to stop and “get out of the car.” The driver of the Acura, later determined to be the seventeen-year-old juvenile, lurched the car forward and then accelerated directly at Officer Arndt who was standing on the driver’s side and in front of the Acura. The seventeen-year-old juvenile then drove onto the sidewalk where Officer Arndt was located forcing Officer Arndt to move out of the way to avoid being struck by the Acura. As Officer Arndt was moving out of the way, he fired his weapon ten times at the Acura. The seventeen-year-old juvenile did not stop, however, and drove through the parking lot of the dealership at a high rate of speed, drove over a concrete parking barrier, turned east on Ogden Ave., and then turned left to head north on Route 83. Oak Brook police officers took over the pursuit of the Acura which ultimately crashed over the curb and into the grass on the west side of Route 83, approximately 200 feet north of 22nd Street in Oakbrook Terrace. After crashing the Acura, all four suspects in the vehicle fled on foot. The seventeen-year-old juvenile was subsequently taken into custody after jumping from the second floor of the parking garage near Macy’s in the Oak Brook Center mall. He was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to his chest. Martin was taken into custody near the Lake View Nature Center Building. Martin, who was shot two times in his left arm and was grazed by a gunshot to his left leg, was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital for treatment of his injuries.
MERIT investigators processed the scene at Laurel BMW where they recovered ten spent shell casings. MERIT investigators also processed the vehicle allegedly driven by the seventeen-year-old juvenile and observed evidence of eight gunshots that impacted the vehicle: two in the front windshield, one to the driver side A-pillar, one to the driver side window, one to the driver side B-pillar, one to the rear door on the driver’s side, one near the gas tank filler opening, and one to the back of the driver’s side C-pillar. Following the execution of a valid search warrant, investigators recovered four firearms in or near the crashed Acura. A Glock 19x 9mm handgun with a 32-round extended magazine in it was located outside the Acura, on the ground next to the driver’s side of the car. A bullet was in the chamber and the magazine contained 31 rounds. A black Polymer80 handgun with no serial number and a laser device attached to it was located in the rear seat behind the driver. There was a round in the chamber but no magazine in the gun. A black Glock 17 Gen4 handgun was located in the rear seat on the passenger side. This gun had a full auto switch attached to it. There was a round in the chamber and a 24-round magazine containing approximately 14 rounds in the gun. A Glock 23 Gen4 .40 cal. handgun was found in the front passenger side. This gun had a full auto switch affixed to it and contained a 22-round magazine with approximately 20 rounds inside. Through their investigation, authorities discovered that the 2020 white Acura TLX sedan used by the offenders to burglarize Laurel BMW had been stolen from a Libertyville car dealership on December 21, 2021.
The above facts have been evaluated in the context of Illinois law governing the justifiable use of deadly force. In accordance with Illinois law, my staff and I have reviewed the facts and circumstances of the case with special consideration given to the perspective of the officer on the scene. It is important to remember that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the appropriate amount of force necessary to bring a tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving situation under control.
The law of the State of Illinois as it applies to the use of force in this matter is set forth as follows:
Illinois Statute 720 ILCS 5/7-1 (a) - Use of force in defense of person states “a person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another, or the commission of a forcible felony.” Additionally, Illinois Statute 720 ILCS 5/7-5 - Peace officer’s use of force in making arrest states “Peace officer’s use of force in making arrest. (a) A peace officer, or any person whom he has summoned or directed to assist him, need not retreat or desist from efforts to make a lawful arrest because of resistance or threatened resistance to the arrest. He is justified in the use of any force which he reasonably believes to be necessary to effect the arrest and of any force which he reasonably believes to be necessary to defend himself or another from bodily harm while making the arrest. However, he is justified in using force likely to cause death or great bodily harm only when he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or such other person, or when he reasonably believes both that: (1) Such force is necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by resistance or escape; and (2) The person to be arrested has committed or attempted a forcible felony which involves the infliction or threatened infliction of great bodily harm or is attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon, or otherwise indicates that he will endanger human life or inflict great bodily harm unless arrested without delay.
When Westmont Police Department Officers Arndt and his partner attempted to stop a 2020 white Acura TLX sedan fleeing from a burglary being driven by the seventeen-year-old juvenile, they were peace officers performing their official duties. Both officers were in uniform and easily identifiable as police officers due to their dress in police uniforms with police radios and police stars identifying them as police officers. Additionally, the squad car’s blue and red oscillating lights were activated as the squad car pulled up to the parked Acura in the BMW dealership lot. The seventeen-year-old juvenile clearly knew that Arndt and his partner were police officers. Both officers properly ordered the seventeen-year-old juvenile to stop and “get out of the car.” The seventeen-year-old juvenile chose to completely ignore those lawful commands. Both officers had their weapon pointed at the seventeen-year-old juvenile when he refused to stop the vehicle and comply with their commands. The seventeen-year-old juvenile instead pulled his vehicle forward in a jerking manner directly at Officer Arndt who repeatedly ordered him to stop. The seventeen-year-old juvenile then accelerated in the direction of Officer Arndt and as Officer Arndt tried to move out of the way, he found himself trapped between the advancing Acura driven by the seventeen-year-old juvenile and the exterior wall of the BMW dealership. Believing that the seventeen-year-old juvenile was trying to kill him with the advancing Acura, a forcible felony under Illinois law, Officer Arndt discharged his weapon. Given the violent actions of the seventeen-year-old juvenile, his refusal to obey repeated police commands, his complete and utter disregard for the authority of the police, and his intentional act of driving a 3,505-pound vehicle at Officer Arndt, it was reasonable for Officer Arndt to believe the seventeen-year-old juvenile was attempting to run him over, and that deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself. Moreover, under Illinois law, Officer Arndt was not required to retreat or desist from efforts to make a lawful arrest because of the seventeen-year-old juvenile’s resistance to the arrest. Officer Arndt was justified in using deadly force because he reasonably believed such force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself. Additionally, as the seventeen-year-old juvenile was fleeing two forcible felonies, burglary as well as an aggravated assault, both of which involved the infliction or threatened infliction of great bodily harm, Officer Arndt reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary to prevent the arrest of the seventeen-year-old juvenile from being defeated. Moreover, by accelerating while driving the white Acura directly at Officer Arndt, the seventeen-year-old juvenile clearly indicated that he would endanger human life or inflict great bodily harm unless arrested without delay. The legal justification for Officer Arndt’s shooting of the seventeen-year-old juvenile also applies to Angel Martin, who was shot in the arm. Under Illinois law, if Officer Arndt acted in self-defense in shooting the Seventeen-year-old juvenile, he acted in self-defense in shooting Angel Martin in the arm. See People v. Getter, 2015 IL App (1st) 121307, ¶ 36, 389 Ill. Dec. 301, 26 N.E.3d 391 (“Under the doctrine of ‘transferred intent,’ the ‘specific intent to kill one person in self-defense [may] be transferred to third parties ultimately affected by the acts of self-defense.’ ”) (quoting People v. Smith, 94 Ill.App.3d 969, 973, 50 Ill. Dec. 296, 419 N.E.2d 404 (1981)).
Based on the results of an incredibly thorough investigation, the use of deadly force was justified under 720 ILCS 5/7-5 (1) and (2). Therefore, it is the conclusion of my Office that Officer Arndt acted lawfully and was justified in using deadly force when he fired his gun at the white Acura being driven by the seventeen-year-old juvenile who ignored the officers’ commands to get out of the car and instead drove directly at officer Arndt in a display of complete contempt for the law.
I would like to thank all the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation including MERIT, the Westmont Police Department and the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office as well as Assistant State’s Attorneys Helen Kapas, Nick Catizone and Lynn Cavallo.”