PEORIA, Ill. — Former Peoria County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Patterson lied to his superiors and possibly put a civilian’s life in jeopardy, according to documents obtained by WMBD through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Earlier this week Sheriff Brian Asbell confirmed, after a hearing, Deputy Patterson was terminated as an employee.
According to the FOIA documents received, the Peoria County Sheriff’s Merit Commission conducted a disciplinary hearing starting on October 21, 2019. The hearing was called concerning charges filed against former Deputy Patterson. Commissioners found Patterson guilty on eight charges related to violations of rules and regulations, which they say justified his removal. The charges included conduct unbecoming a deputy, willful mistreatment of a person and falsification of reports.
“A law enforcement officer’s position is a position of trust and because of this the public has the right to the highest standard of behavior from those we give the power and authority to,” said Sheriff Asbell. “Once public trust has been compromised, the mission of this agency would be harmed with the deputy’s continued service”.
According to the original complaint:
The first charge pertains to a conversation Patterson had with former Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady. Patterson says he and Brady had a disagreement in DUI court in July of 2017. According to Patterson, Brady said about drivers suspected of intoxication “if they don’t flunk all three tests, they don’t get arrested.” Patterson then asked if they refuse one or more tests or meet an exception like a driver of old age or a driver who is too heavy, should they be able to get away with driving intoxicated? Patterson claims Brady responded “yes”. Another attorney who was present during the conversation told the Sheriff’s Office that was not what was said; investigators considered evidence during the hearing and agreed.
The second, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth counts pertain to the following report:
On July 24, 2017, Patterson wrote a report in which he claimed: he saw two cars driving in what he thought was a suspicious pattern near Main St. and Tremont St. in Bartonville. To make the story clearer WMBD will call the cars Car 1 and Car 2.
At one point Car 1 pulled into a laundromat without anyone exiting. Patterson says he used his spotlight to read the license plate number and find out who the car was registered to.
Patterson then and followed Car 1 to a house on Princeville and Jubilee roads. Patterson then says he went back to the laundromat where Car 2 was parked, again with people sitting inside.
He then followed Car 2 which was driving toward the house (where Car 1 was parked) but Car 2 didn’t stop there.
At that point, Patterson says he pulled into the driveway where Car 1 was parked. He said he intended to tell the driver and passengers the laundromat is for paying customers only and the owner had asked him to keep loiterers, away because it hurts the owner’s business.
Before Patterson went up to the door, he got a phone call from a woman who told Patterson there was a post on Facebook about him. It questioned why Patterson shined his spotlight on car plates at the laundromat.
After the call, he says he knocked on the door of the house and five people came to the door. Patterson said he could smell marijuana and patchouli oil and heard someone say “hide that shit, it’s a cop.”
Patterson writes he told the people inside that the laundromat was for paying customers and if any of them had written the Facebook post, they now understood why he was using his spotlight. Patterson says he then left.
Those in the cars later filed a complaint against Patterson saying he had been following them before they go to the laundromat, alleging Patterson hadn’t just noticed them when he was in the area.
During the October 19, 2017 hearing with the Peoria County Sheriff’s Merit Commission, Patterson was asked about another facet to the story, the Facebook post.
Investigators asked Patterson about another report. In it, Patterson says he went to Facebook directly to ask the company to delete the post about him shining a spotlight on license plates at the laundromat.
While Patterson doesn’t deny that aspect, the timeline came into question.
Patterson said he asked the writer to remove the post herself but when she didn’t, he asked Facebook to remove the post. Patterson says he asked the woman to take it down on July 21 and made the request to Facebook “three or four days later.”
However, according to the woman, Patterson asked her to remove the post on July 22. Evidence including phone records verified her story.
Another issue with that event caused concern for the Peoria County Sheriff’s Merit Commission, they asked Patterson whether he was really in the driveway of the home when he got the call from a friend about the Facebook post.
Patterson admitted he was actually in a church parking lot when he got the call and then headed to the house.
The third and seventh and eighth counts stem from a setup drug deal. On August 23, 2017, a citizen filed a complaint against Patterson with the Peoria County Sheriff’s Department.
The complainant said Patterson asked him to set up a drug deal as a confidential informant. The complainant then says Patterson backed out the night of the deal. To make the story clearer and to protect privacy, WMBD will call the complainant David from here on out.
David says the deal was set to happen on July 6, 2017, and because of how Patterson was acting that day he was afraid for his safety and his family’s safety so he made them go to a family member’s house.
David explained Patterson came up with a plan to have David meet a drug dealer to buy cocaine. Patterson told him to meet the dealer in one location, then drive him to a second location where Patterson was waiting and could catch the dealer.
David says the drug dealer changed the plan the night of the meet-up and when David shared the news with Patterson, he would not cooperate and told David to stop answering the dealer’s phone calls.
David says at one point Patterson told him he was “too busy” to help.
In that same timeframe, Patterson’s colleagues say he had been texting them about the deal all night on July 6, 2017. They say he gave them timeframes on when it could happen, telling them when he knows more, he’d let them know so deputies can “start this way.”
Later that evening Patterson texted colleagues “It’s on, could be ten minutes, could be two hours, float this way until I know, if you can.”
Minutes later, Patterson told them if the deal did happen, it will be within the next 30 minutes. Another couple minutes later, Patterson told his colleagues “it’s off.”
When a deputy asked why Patterson called off the deal, Patterson said it “was not serious enough to call them (other deputies) up.” The investigators found what Patterson’s colleagues claimed matched cell phone records on July 6, 2017.
The Peoria County Sheriff’s Merit Commission also found Patterson falsified a drug report in which he said he saw another law enforcement officer use cocaine. They also say he failed to tell supervisors about how he handled an incident off-duty in which he went to a woman’s house and told a citizen that he was trespassing and that if he didn’t stop he would get arrested.
When found guilty of the above charges, Patterson violated a number of Sheriff Office policies, including:
A policy stating employees of the sheriff’s department shall not make false reports or knowingly enter/remove or cause to be entered or removed in any departmental books, record computer logs or report any inaccurate or false information; falsification of reports, records, computer lots, and written or oral communications.
A policy pertaining to the failure to report honestly and accurately all facts pertaining to an investigation.
A policy pertaining to conduct unbecoming a deputy or employee, which would tend to bring discredit to the Sheriff’s office,
A policy stating “I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions.”
Patterson had worked for the office for 20 years. He was initially placed on leave in October of 2017. Asbell says Patterson’s hearing took several days and included a presentation of evidence, witness testimony, and arguments from both parties.
This post is being updated