NILES, Ill. – It all started with a whistleblower’s complaint alleging police misconduct in suburban Niles.
In an exclusive interview with WGN Investigates, the whistleblower, 22-year department veteran Nick Beyer, said he could no longer keep quiet.
“I’ve had threats of bodily harm,” Beyer said, “I was placed on administrative leave, was exiled from the department, [and] banned from the property.”
He said it’s all because he shined a light on an incident that many in the department would have preferred to keep in the dark.
His speaking out has ignited a political battle.
On April 26, in response to Beyer’s allegations, Mayor Andrew Przybylo ordered the police chief to be placed on administrative leave.
The move required the village manager’s approval. But apparently it did not have wide support among village officials.
A Niles spokesman said the chief was never placed on leave, and, per the village manager’s direction, continues “acting in full capacity.”
Przybylo called the decision “disappointing,” adding, “it would have been the right thing to do.”
The mayor also asked the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to review Beyer’s allegations. A state’s attorney’s spokesman said the office is reviewing his request to “determine if any next legal steps are appropriate.”
The misconduct allegations stem from an incident at a McDonald’s drive-thru in the early morning hours of Feb. 28.
Still images from officers’ body worn cameras, obtained by WGN Investigates, appear to show a person slumped behind the wheel, unresponsive and possibly impaired.
Soon after, one of the officers recognized the driver as a fellow Niles Police Department employee, according to Beyer’s complaint.
Beyer said the responding officers tried to cover it up.
“The officers turned off their body cameras which is against the body worn camera act, amongst other policy and procedure violations,” he said.
WGN Investigates has requested police reports and camera footage from the encounter through a FOIA request. Per state law, the village must turn over the records or ask for an extension within five business days.
The request is still pending.
Officers even drove the possibly impaired employee home, which was around 40 minutes away, Beyer said.
Beyer said he was so disturbed by the alleged violations, he sent a written whistleblower complaint to the village manager.
Beyer said he took a personal and professional risk by doing so, but adds, “I’d rather do the right thing than try to cover something up,” he said.
Przybylo did not run for reelection because of term limits. His last day is May 11.
Beyer said he was placed on paid administrative leave shortly after filing the complaint because he refused to disclose who told him about the incident.
He was not present that night at the McDonald’s.
The Niles spokesman declined to comment on Beyer’s status or allegations raised in his complaint.
Through the spokesman, the police chief declined an interview request due to an ongoing internal investigation into how the incident “at the drive-thru was handled.”