Charges dropped against Rockford protester after arrest, officer charged with battery

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s office has dismissed charges against 22-year-old William Gettings, and a Rockford police officer has been charged with misdemeanor battery.

Gettings arrest Saturday became a flashpoint for a Rockford protest group.

The Rockford Youth Activism group has claimed Gettings (aka “Sage”) was a frequent participant in local protests, which have called for the abolition of the Rockford Police Department, and the firing of Chief Dan O’Shea.

According to the criminal complaint, Gettings was pulled over at Turner St. and Dawn Ave. for failure to use a turn signal twice after an Rockford Police Officer began following him for allegedly shouting something unintelligible out his window as he passed.

During the stop, Gettings got out of his vehicle while officers were checking his license and registration. Police said Gettings then refused officers’ commands to get back in his vehicle.

The complaint alleges that Gettings was combative and spat on an officer as they wrestled him to the ground, at which point he said, “I’m grabbing your gun,” and placed his hand on the grip of the an officer’s weapon.

Gettings was subsequently taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries suffered during the struggle, according to the written complaint.

His mugshot shows Gettings with a bandage on his forehead and bruising around his swollen eye.

He was charged with 2 counts of Aggravated Battery to a Police Officer, Attempting to Disarm a Police Officer, and Resisting a Police Officer.

Photo: Winnebago County Jail

The Rockford Youth Activism group protested outside the Winnebago County Justice Center, at 650 W State St, on Sunday, demanding Gettings be released, the charges against him dropped, and the officers involved in the traffic stop to be fired.

The charges against Gettings were dropped following a motion filed Monday by the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office after video from the squad car was reviewed.

Officer Frank Fabiani has been charged with misdemeanor Battery, and is scheduled to appear in court at 1 p.m. on August 13th.

Ofc. Frank Fabiani

State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite-Ross said the video won’t be released to the public until it is used as evidence in the trial.

“These charges today is what my office does all the time,” Hite Ross said, adding that the original charges against Gettings were filed before the video had been reviewed and that is it common for her office to press charges without video evidence.

Chief Dan O’Shea said Fabiani has been with the Rockford Police Department for 19 months, and is currently on paid leave.

“We will hold ourselves accountable, whether or not there is protesting.” O’Shea said.

Vince Kelly, of the Rockford Illinois Police Officers Association PB&PA Unit 6 sent out a response to Officer Fabiani’s charges:

The PB & PA Unit #6 is disappointed to learn of the charges filed against a Rockford Police Department officer in light of the fact that there has been no investigation to our knowledge. In our early review of the video footage, the officer appeared to act within his training, provided multiple lawful orders which were refused, and – based on the actions of the individual – used reasonable force to subdue the individual when he resisted.

We are fully supportive of high standards for and accountability of our officers. As we have in the past, we would demand appropriate disciplinary action if this were a case of an officer acting inappropriately. However, we have real concerns regarding this situation. It lacks the transparency and due process upon which our justice system is founded. The video has not been released and there has been no investigation that we were made aware of. We are confident that when the video is made public, it will be clear that this was a routine traffic stop that escalated due to the uncooperative nature of the driver and the officer acted within his training.

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