This week, both CBS and the Northwest Herald were given very interesting information. A tape of a State Police officer punching, yelling, slapping, and intimidating people in the Marengo Police Department was handed to them, as well as an interview with Brian Gaughan Sr., and Kevin Gaughan concerning the events on the tape. But because of threats of lawsuits from State Police lawyers, CBS producers decided to show a watered down version of what they originally planned. They neither mentioned the State Police officer’s name, William Kroncke, nor described in detail what happened on the tape that they ran. The Northwest Herald was even more cowardly, refusing to run an article already written and planned for Friday morning due to fears of lawsuits by the State Police and pressure by the State’s Attorney’s Office. The article that did come out on Saturday morning was not much more than a watered down version of the original. It even had a quote on top implying that the State Police did not believe the video was what it seemed.
Now, our Marengo Gazette is a small, online enterprise connected with our Marengo Message Board. We do not give in to pressure from town governments, State’s Attorney’s offices, or threats of lawsuits. Therefore, I will put parts of the tape online for all of you to look over and to see for yourselves what really happened.
Now, first of all, the two State Police officers on the tape are William Kroncke and Virgil Schroeder. From what I understand, Kroncke is a millionaire whose father-in-law has a lot of political clout. This is how he is able to commit crimes that you see on this tape and get away with it. I did not see Schroeder do anything particularly exciting on the tape other than to sit at his desk and stare off into space. However, he made no move to stop his partner or to prevent Kevin Gaughan from being mistreated for 5 and a half hour.
The tape contains footage which makes it pretty clear what has transpired during the 5 hour interrogation. You can watch parts of it and see for yourselves.
First of all, there is the scene where Kroncke slaps Kevin Gaughan. It is interesting to watch, as there is very little to excuse these actions. Kevin Gaughan was there to make a complaint of police brutality against Scott Crawford. He wasn’t there because he committing any sort of crime or did anything wrong. This is important to note, because the State Police asked him to come down to the Marengo Police Station in order so they could take the complaint and investigate Crawford, not to be interrogated. This is not what happened. William Kroncke attempted to force him to sign a false confession, claiming that Kevin committed the car burglaries in Doral Ridge. He was yelled at, harassed, and slapped in the face, told that his father would lose his job and would go to jail and that his whole family would suffer if he did not sign the document in front of him, dropping the complaint against Crawford. Needless to say, this was not an investigation of Crawford, this was an attempt to cover up his crimes. I need not say, I’m sure, that if the State Police really wanted to conduct an investigation into the complaint, they would have met with Kevin Gaughan in an independent setting and not in the Marengo Police Station, where the Officer in question still was employed. Obviously they were not interested in seriously investigating the incidents with Crawford in the first place, otherwise why meet there? It seems clear that the only reason Kroncke and Schroeder were brought in was because the Marengo Police Department wanted a way to cover up Crawford’s crimes. After all, Sgt. Joe Perez, who is head of the investigation, was a long time resident of Marengo and friends with those in the department, so it seems that this must not have been too hard to arrange.
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The scene where Kroncke hits Kevin is very hard to misconstrue. Watch it for yourselves. I believe Kroncke’s lawyer said that Kroncke was brushing the lint off of Kevin’s shoulder! Well, as you can see, he actually does hit him. And just in case there is any doubt about that, Kevin puts a hand to his face afterward. It is also interesting to watch what Kroncke’s partner Schroeder does: he gets up and walks nowhere, just making a complete circle. It’s obvious that he suddenly stood up like this because he simply could not believe what his partner just did. If you watch the clip as a whole several times, it will become very obvious what took place. Kroncke’s lawyer’s excuses sound just like what they are - excuses to cover up his crimes.
The most interesting part of the tape, of course, is the part where Kroncke punched out the prisoner that the Marengo Police brought in, Orest Hideo. What you can see is Hideo being brought out of the police car, into the police department, where he clearly starts saying something to Kevin before the Marengo Police put him against the wall. What he told Kevin was not to talk to the police without a lawyer. Kroncke then got off his chair and punched the handcuffed prisoner out. After Hideo is on the floor, Officer Mahlke kicks him into his cell. There is no mistaking this action either. You can see it yourselves right on the tape, regardless of what anyone might say. Just so all of you know, Officer Mahlke is also the Chief of Wonder Lake. I would think the citizens of Wonder Lake might be interested to know that their new Chief approves of prisoners in custody being punched, and that he kicks them when they’re down.
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Also, note the time on the bottom of the screen right after Orest Hideo is punched out. He is unconscious in his cell for 43 minutes. His hands are cuffed behind his back and no one calls for medical attention. Afterward, you can see the Marengo Police cleaning up his blood off the floor.
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Later on the tape, there is yet an another interesting occurrence. There is an awful lot of blood. At one point, one of the Marengo Police Officers comes back and notices that it had not all been cleaned up. Officer Mahlke gets more paper towels and cleans up the rest of it. In fact, he grabs a whole bunch of towels from a paper towel dispenser, wipes the blood off with his feet, and throws the bloodied towels in the garbage. There is no way that you can watch this and not see what has taken place. And it is just as obvious who punches the prisoner out – William Kroncke. He gets up off his chair, walks up to the Marengo police officers, who are holding Hideo against the wall, raises his arm, punches, and then Hideo falls to the floor and there is blood. I cannot see what else could have possibly happened on the tape. It seems very obvious and hard to misconstrue. Of course, the Marengo Police are just as responsible for not protecting the prisoner who is in their custody. From what Kevin Gaughan has described, they laughed about the whole incident among themselves. You can also see Officer Mahlke kicking the unconscious prisoner into a cell after he is knocked out. Apparently, this is something that must have gone on quite often at the Marengo Police Department and no one thought anything of it. Certainly, no one was angry at Kroncke for knocking the prisoner. No one thought to check on Hideo while he was in the cell, handcuffed and unconscious, or to provide him with medical attention.
What happens in some of the other scenes on the tape? Well, I watched the tape as a whole and unfortunately it is impossible to put it all online. However, I think watching the whole thing gives one a whole different perspective on what went on. Also on what kind of person William Kroncke is. For one, it becomes obvious how ridiculous the excuses the State Police lawyers make for Kroncke really are. It’s next to impossible to watch the whole tape and not see it as anything less than intimidation and further police brutality. William Kroncke is clearly a very scary and intimidating presence. But its even more than that – this is a person who seems almost as if he is insane and should not be given a gun and a badge! He should not be allowed to perform a job as an officer or an investigator after treating a witness who is supposed to have given him information about a police brutality incident in this way. Clearly, he isn’t investigating anyone, he’s breaking the law in order to help out the Marengo Police by forcing Kevin Gaughan to drop his complaint. For five and a half hour this person screams, makes gestures with his arms, threatens to do to Kevin what he has done to the prisoner in handcuffs, sticks Kevin into a jail cell, threatens Kevin’s family and friends. He picks up a chair that still has a coat on it, for goodness sakes, and swings it around over his head. What kind of normal person would do something like this? And he never lets up with the screaming, yelling, hand swinging, and holding out the paper for Kevin to sign for the whole 5 and a half hours. You can see Schroeder just sitting there staring off into space. He makes no gesture to stop the tirade, and is therefore also responsible for what happened. The most telling part was when Kevin asks to go the bathroom. You would think that after almost 5 hours Kroncke would rest and relax during this little break in order to get ready for more screaming and yelling? Nope. He goes up to the cell where Orest Hideo has now regained consciousness and starts harassing and baiting him until Hideo yells something back. Then Kroncke calls the Marengo police officers into the room, who threaten to pepper spray Hideo. It is apparent from Kroncke’s gestures that he tells them that Hideo had started yelling himself. However, when you watch the tape, you can see that Kroncke started baiting him first, when Hideo was just sitting quietly on the cot. But that’s even beside the point. Kroncke could not sit still for a few minutes while the person he was harassing for many hours went into the bathroom! What kind of person is this? Are we supposed to take this person’s word for what happened in any investigation at all, whether it’s the shooting conducted by a Marengo Police Officer or Crawford hurting people? He can’t even keep his temper after 5 hours of screaming! Needless to say, he also seems to have few morals, as he has no problem at all knocking out a prisoner completely unrelated to the case he was investigating just to intimidate Kevin Gaughan so that he would think something like this could happen to him. He has no trouble harassing the prisoner in question for no apparent reason whatsoever and then telling the police officers on duty that the prisoner was the one who caused the problem. Clearly, besides appearing to be mentally ill, William Kroncke lies and makes things up just to get his way in whatever matter is at hand. This much is obvious from his behavior on this tape.
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Kroncke isn’t the only person committing crimes in this video. At the very end, Officer Riley and County Officer Umbenhower sit down with Kevin Gaughan and try to get him to admit to them that he was the one who committed the burglaries in Doral Ridge. Of course, both of these Officers knew that this wasn’t true, as they already had a suspect in custody who really did commit the burglaries. He is in the upper quadrant of the film, sitting in a jail cell. So, there was no reason for them to harass Kevin and try to get him to admit to crimes he did not commit. It should also be noted that this incident took place after Kevin Gaughan had been interrogated for over five and a half hours. I don’t know if Officer Riley was hoping that Kevin by this time would be worn out by all the screaming and yelling and would therefore confess, or what they hoped would happen. But it is clearly wrong for a police officer to accuse someone of something that they did not do, when the Officers in question know for sure that this person did not do it.
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One final interesting look at an another incident that transpired: While Kevin was locked up in the jail cell, Orest Hideo was taken out of his cell. Watch the cardboard that is put up to block Kevin’s view of what is about to take place. Why do you think they needed to do that? I can only imagine. But a Marengo Officer notices it and looks at it in great confusion, after which the cardboard is taken back down again. Apparently Kroncke and the others think better of it. Why is this of any significance? Well, in November of last year, Orest Hideo was arrested by the Marengo Police, brought to the police department, and then wound up in the hospital for days. I wonder if beatings are a regular occurrence in the Marengo Police Department? The cardboard seems to indicate so. This is something that one would expect to find in a third world country, not in the United States. We should all be ashamed and outraged that our police department lets these things go on and that the people in this town go and defend the police department regardless of these doings.