Street fight victim loses vision in eye

34-year-old man charged in attack
October 21, 2009 5:37:14 AM PDT
Two off-duty Cook County sheriff's officers broke up a street fight in which a teenager lost her vision in one eye over the weekend. Officer Derrick Rhodes and his wife, Monica, who also works for the Cook County Sheriff's Department, were off-duty when they came across the fight in Chicago's Roseland community on October 18. The couple helped break it up until police arrived.

Officer Derrick Rhodes said he and his wife had just finished Sunday breakfast when they drove up on the street fight, which was so large it blocked the road. With images of the deadly fight at Fenger High School fresh in their minds, the two sheriff's office employees stopped. They were outnumbered by 22.

"You're seeing bricks. You're seeing bottles. You're seeing baseball bats. Twenty people, it looked like a street brawl," said Rhodes.

And in the middle of the brawl- a 17-year-old girl from Schaumburg who was visiting relatives in the Roseland neighborhood. She was beaten severely and lost sight in one eye. She remains hospitalized.

"The first thing that goes through your mind is why should another child lose his or her life over something that doesn't make any sense?" said Officer Rhodes.

"Instinct just kicked in. Five seconds later we were out of the car telling them to get down on the ground and corralling them as best as we could," said Sgt. Monica Rhodes, Cook County Sheriff's Deputy.

It was the first time Sergeant Rhodes had drawn her weapon in the line of duty. She works in the courthouse. Her husband is a K9 officer in the Cook County Jail.

While the crowd of 20 could have easily turned on them before backup arrived, the Rhodes' say most followed orders to drop the bats and bottles.

Tommy McLaurin, 34, is among four people charged in connection with the brawl. McLaurin is accused of hurling the beer bottle that hit the teenage girl.

The Rhodes' have kids of their own and - like many others - are frustrated by a senseless surge in youth violence. That's why they decided they couldn't wait for back-up.

"At that point her life meant more than me and my wife because, again, it's got to stop," said Officer Rhodes.

"I hope she's okay and life will go on and you'll be better because of it," said Sgt. Rhodes.

Police said the fight was one of several that erupted that day between rival gangs and a dispute over drugs. The 17-year-old beating victim remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition.


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