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Police Release 9-11 Call With Wrong Burglary Suspect, 13

Last Thursday, a 13-year-old boy was handcuffed by police officers who believed him to be a suspect in a burglary. His parents say the arrest was mishandled and is an example of racial profiling.

Evanston police have released the 9-11 recording from a burglary that took place in the 1600 block of Seward Street last Thurday. Following the burglary, police student at , believing him to be a suspect. Police drove the victim of the burglary to his location, where she told officers he was not the person she saw in her house. 

His mother, Ava Thompson Greenwell, who witnessed the incident, has since filed a complaint with the police department, alleging that they used excessive force in handcuffing her son, ignored her questions and failed to obtain a detailed description of the suspect. 

Patch initially requested the audio from the 9-11 call on Wednesday, Sept. 5. A spokesperson for the police department said they do not release audio from ongoing investigations. The call was subsequently released to the media on Friday, Sept. 7.

Greenwell listened to the 9-11 call before it became public, and that she does not believe the dispatcher asked the victim enough questions about the suspect—including questions about his facial hair, any piercings, or specific skin color. 

“People of African descent come in shades from ebony to ivory,” she said. “Just being a black male doesn’t come in that much help when you’re looking for someone.” 

In the 9-11 call, the victim tells the dispatcher that the burglar was a young, black male wearing “some kind of cargo, khaki kind of shorts and a dark brown t-shirt or a dark shirt.” 

Diwani was wearing navy blue cargo shorts and a light-colored t-shirt that day, according to Greenwell. 

Given the disparity between the description of the suspect and the attire of her son, Greenwell believes the incident is an example of racial profiling. Her neighborhood is predominantly white, with just a few African-American families in the cul-de-sac on Kirk Street where she lives. As police officers in unmarked cars followed her son home on his bike, she believes they began to make assumptions. 

“I think this officer thought, ‘This kid is in the wrong neighborhood, he doesn’t belong here,’” she says. 

The 9-11 call reveals that police discussed the suspect’s attire several times. The dispatcher refers to the suspect as wearing “khaki cargo shorts” multiple times, and at one point an officer on the scene reports that Diwani Greenwell was wearing “dark cargo shorts.” Another officer on the scene later describes them as “khaki shorts.” 

Police Chief Richard Eddington said the department’s internal investigation could take up to 60 days from the time the complaint was filed. 

Below is a transcript of the beginning of the 9-11 call including the discussion between the victim and the dispatcher. Certain identifying information was blocked from the transcript provided to Patch. To hear the full 9-11 call, click on this link. 

Operator: Evanston 911, Where’s your emergency?

Caller: Um, 16XX Seward Street

Operator: So what’s going on?

Caller: Someone just came into my house, I was downstairs and I heard something that came up. Someone was in my bedroom. Someone was in my house.

Opeartor: Do you have a description of them at all?

Caller: He seemed like a young boy, he was African-American. Um, he had, like, a phone charger and like an iPad charger in his hand.

Operator: That were, that are yours?

Caller: Yes, that he …

Operator: Did he take them with him?

Caller: No, he, he didn’t, he dropped them. I don’t know if he had anything else in his pockets.

Operator: Do you have a description of like his, what he was wearing?

Caller: I think he was wearing some kind of cargo, khaki kind of shorts and a dark brown t-shirt or a dark shirt.

Operator: Okay, and is 16XX Seward a house or an apartment?

Caller: It’s a house.

Operator: Hold on one second, let me get the officers sited into the area. This just happened, right?

Caller: Yeah…(garbled).

Operator: Okay, hold on one second, let me get an officer on the way.

Pause

Operator: (garbled) car here, 16XX Seward, 16XX Seward. Had a forced entry occur to a house. The offender’s a black male, probably in his teens, wearing a dark shirt and khaki cargo shorts. 16XX Seward, for two (garbled) cars here.

Okay, so do you know at this time if he actually got away with anything?

Caller: I have absolutely no idea.

Operator: Okay. Did you see any weapons or anything like that on him?

Caller: No.

Operator: Do you know how got in?

Caller: He looked very scared, cause, he was…You know, my dad has workers coming in our house all day so I’m used to having people in and out.

Operator: Do you know how he might have gotten in?

Caller: I’m looking at it right now, both doors are locked and he even tried to get out the front door. He had trouble getting out.

Operator: Okay.

Caller: And I don’t see any windows open.

Operator: But he left through the front door?

Caller: Yes.

Operator: And you don’t, you don’t know which way he ran?

Caller: Um, I do, I actually watched him run out right of my house and I think down an alley that’s across the street. So, north.

Operator: He ran northbound in the alley?

Caller: Yes.

Operator: Okay. And what’s your name?

Caller: XXX

Operator: Okay. And a phone number if I should have to call you back?

Caller: XXX

Operator: Okay, we already have officers in the area, so they’re going to check the area first but then definitely come and talk to you at the house, okay?

Caller: Okay, thank you.

 

The rest of the call contains communications between police as they follow Diwani Greenwell, who was biking home to his house in the 1600 block of Kirk Street.

One officer says, “We saw a guy from a distance kind of match that description on a bike. We lost him, like, Dewey and Oakton, north of there.” 

Later, another officer asks, “Can I get another description of the offender?”

The dispatcher responds:  “A male black juvenile with a dark shirt and khaki, ah, shorts, or pants, cargo pants.” 

Police continue discussing where the boy on the bike went as they attempt to track him down. At one point, an officer tells the dispatcher they do not need any more police cars, and the dispatcher announces that over the radio. 

Another officer says, “If we could just verify, somebody, with the victim, the description, ‘cause I got somebody with cargo shorts, like a dark navy blue or black.” 

She adds, “He’s wearing a light grey tank top.” 

A different officer describes Diwani Greenwell (who is 5’6”) this way: “He’s wearing a black t-shirt, dark cargo shorts, no hat, skinny, tall, probably 6 feet, high school age.”

The dispatcher asks the officers on scene to confirm that they’ve “got a male black juvenile with a dark shirt and khaki cargo shorts.” 

An officer responds: “Tall, skinny, high school age, at this point.”

The dispatcher repeats the description: “male black juvenile, dark shirt, khaki cargo shorts.” 

There is a pause, and then another officer says, “It’s a male black, high school age, with a dark shirt, khaki shorts.” 

The officer asks, “And were those cargo shorts or cargo pants?” 

“Shorts, shorts,” the dispatcher responds. 

 

 

Patricia September 08, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Bitter Sylence your comment speaks volumes about YOU. Never in this day and age should a situation such as this be funny to anyone. In addition to use any derivation of the 'N' word is not acceptable. This is a child.
Jennifer Fisher September 09, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Patricia, I just caught the comment you replied to. We've deleted it since it violates our terms of service. Readers--please feel free to shoot me an e-mail at jenniferf@patch.com if you see something out of line, and I will take a look.
Patricia September 09, 2012 at 06:16 AM
Jennifer thank you so much for first reviewing and then deleting the highly inappropriate and offensive comment.

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