CHICAGO — There was a rare request today from the mother of a drunk driving victim who was left with serious brain injuries. She doesn’t want the Chicago officer accused in the case to go to jail.
It`s been two difficult years for Kathy Kean as she cares for her daughter Courtney Cusentino who suffered a severe brain injury after an off-duty Chicago officer Erin Mowry, allegedly driving drunk, caused an accident that changed their lives.
Now they want him to find redemption with patients, not prisoners.
“I think a more substantial understanding of what somebody does is to live in their shoes,” Kathy said.
Courtney had just stepped off of a bus and was crossing the street near the corner of Belmont and Wolcott avenues on the Northwest Side when Mowry, driving his Mercedes at about 1:20 a.m., sped around the bus and slammed into the 20-year-old.
She has no memory of it.
Prosecutors say Mowry was drunk.
The accident nearly left Cusentiono dead. She suffered a traumatic brain injury and spent months in the hospital. After surgery, she was in a coma and confined to a bed for weeks before a beginning grueling therapy.
She had lost the ability to talk and walk.
But now, nearly two years later she is beginning to feel like herself again.
“I`m good. I`m much better now,” she said Thursday.
It was her Kathy’s idea to ask the judge in the case for a different kind of outcome with the hope that if the man responsible for her situation could see the devastating effects up close, it might change one view on drunk driving.
So today in court, there was a proposal for a plea deal: If Mowry, who is now 42, pleads guilty to in the case, the sentence would include two-and-a-half years of probation and 480 hours of community service helping brain injury victims. And the possibility of avoiding jail time.
He would walk free, but also walk in Courtney’s shoes.
“I feel like he should see what I went through. Or what people go through who are disabled by drunk drivers,” Courtney said.