Jury Acquits Iraq War Veteran Tasered by Police
Brian Wilhelm, of New Lenox, who lost his leg in combat and suffers from PTSD, was charged with battery and obstructing police in December after trying to help people in a car accident on his block.
Brian Wilhelm, the 28-year-old Army veteran who was Tasered in December by New Lenox police, was found not guilty on battery and obstructing police charges.
Wilhelm said he came to help at the scene of a Dec. 11 car accident near his home at Woodlawn and Wisconsin roads. After trying to assist an injured passenger, Wilhelm got into a confrontation with New Lenox police officer Mark Klausner. The two had their hands on each other when another officer used his Taser on Wilhelm.
The New Lenox Police Department maintained that deploying a Taser was necessary because officers say Wilhelm grabbed an officer and was not following orders. But a Will County jury found Wilhelm not guilty on both charges Wednesday afternoon following just over an hour of deliberation.
"Fortunately, the incident was caught on video from one of the patrol cars and the jury could see it was the New Lenox police officer who pushed my client," said Wilhelm's attorney, Lewis Gainor. "This all happened because the officer lost control over a chaotic situation. We’re happy that Brian had the opportunity to be vindicated."
In the police video, which Wilhelm shared with Patch after the New Lenox Police Department declined to release it, Officer Klausner can be seen trying to locate the driver. He calls over Wilhelm, who tries to explain to the officer that he was not a driver but a concerned neighbor.
In court, the police said they originally believed Wilhelm was one of the drivers, both of whom were believed to be under the influence of alcohol, in the accident.
A U.S. Army veteran who served from 2000 to 2006, Wilhelm was shot in combat in Iraq. He lost his leg as a result of his wounds. He now has a prosthetic leg and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to documents he provided to Patch.
Wilhelm argued that prior to being Tasered, he was holding onto the officer for balance because of his leg and didn't get a chance to explain the situation to police.
Neither Wilhelm nor the New Lenox police could be immediately reached for comment. Originally, Wilhelm said he'd be happy if the charges went away, but Gainor didn't rule out the possibility of future litigation against the police department.
"At this stage we’re going to take a step back and review the case," Gainor said, adding that he "absolutely" believes this is a case of police brutality. "(Wilhelm) has other options when it comes to vindicating his civil rights."