URBANA, Ill. (WAND) - An off-duty University of Illinois police officer has been charged with official misconduct.
The News Gazette reports Kiel Cotter, 28, of St. Joseph, is accused of displaying his badge and gun to a group of people in Campustown while drunk.
Cotter was booked into the county jail after admitting he was so drunk, he couldn't remember some of what happened early Sunday morning, police said.
Cotter was fired Monday after being put on administrative leave Sunday afternoon.
He was arraigned Monday afternoon on a felony count, the News Gazette reports.
A Champaign police report stated a woman told police that about 2:45 a.m. Sunday, she was with a group of people in a parking lot in the 0-100 block of East Green Street when Cotter came up to them, identified himself as a UI police officer and showed his badge and weapon.
The News Gazette reported that least one person told police that Cotter drew, then reholstered, his gun.
The witnesses said they were afraid they were in trouble for public intoxication or trying to fit too many people into one vehicle.
One woman said Cotter allegedly told them to do what he said, or they could be shot or arrested. She also said Cotter was physically pushing some people in the group.
As the group of people broke up, one woman said she stayed behind with Cotter to talk with him because she was afraid her friends might get in trouble for being drunk.
The woman and Cotter went to a nearby restaurant and bought food. She said some of her friends rejoined them. The group then went to a second Campustown restaurant, the News Gazette said.
"One of the group members said the woman had asked Cotter to carry her wallet for her. The woman who had asked him to hold her wallet said she declined Cotter’s invitation to return to his home with him, and he left," the News Gazette stated.
Hours later Sunday, the woman realized Cotter still had her wallet, so she called the police.
Champaign police located Cotter and recovered the woman's wallet.
That is when they said Cotter admitted to drinking between six and eight drinks at a campus bar before the incident and could not clearly recall what had happened.
He said he was unable to say why he approached the group but agreed he might have shown his weapon and badge as a way of “trying to show a little power there, a little power trip” and it might have been part of a pickup attempt.
Cotter was hired as a patrol officer in January and graduated from the Police Training Institute in April. He was on probation and still in field training, the News Gazette reported.
“The University of Illinois Police Department does not tolerate behavior inconsistent with its core values of justice, respect, integrity, trust and inclusion. Employees who betray the public trust and violate our code of conduct will be held accountable,” Wade told the News Gazette Monday.
Official misconduct is a Class 3 felony with penalties ranging from probation to two to five years in prison.
Judge Brett Olmstead allowed Cotter to be released on his own recognizance, the News Gazette said. He is due back in court on July 13.
He was also ordered to surrender any guns he has to the sheriff within the next two days and not to be present on the property of the UI.
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