Boy's mother to sue cops, DUI suspect

May 12, 2010 9:48:04 AM PDT
The mother of a boy killed in what police say was a drunken-driving crash said she plans to file a lawsuit Wednesday against the driver and Chicago Heights police.Michael Langford, 5, died in the crash in Steger early Monday. Cecil Conner, 22, is charged with felony DUI and reckless homicide.

The crash happened after a Chicago Heights police officer gave Conner the keys to a red Cavalier after taking the boy's mother into custody. Kathie LaFond was arrested for driving on a suspended license.

LaFond said she asked the arresting officers to make sure her son got home safely. Chicago Heights police say there was no evidence to suggest Conner might have been drunk when they gave him the car keys.

Police say the south suburban man had a blood alcohol level that was three times the legal limit when he crashed into a tree.

Conner appeared in court via closed circuit TV Tuesday afternoon. Prosecutors asked for a $1 million bond before the judge set bond at $500,000.

Some of Conner's family members believe he is not the only one responsible for Michael's death. The little boy is being remembered with stuffed animals, flowers and candles at the crash site. His grandfather said he can't figure out who is to blame for his grandson's death.

"There is too much anger right now, and it's hard, just wish to God it had never happened. I just wish it never happened, that's all," said Duane LaFond, the victim's grandfather.

Langford was killed 40 minutes after a Chicago Heights police officer gave Conner the keys. Chicago Heights police say the officer did not smell any alcohol or see any visible impairment at the time of the traffic stop. In addition, police say LaFond gave the officer verbal permission to let Conner drive the car with her son in it.

Despite that, the Will County state's attorney says some red flags should have gone up.

"A child out at 3 o'clock in the morning and they're not traveling, they're local residents, should have raised some level of inquiry," said Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow.

"They had a half gallon of brandy, a case of beer, a couple 40s and a pint. The pint, I'm not sure what it was and he did have a little THC in him," said Tim Root, Conner's cousin. "The mother knew he was intoxicated. The mother picked him up from the party. She was the designated driver."

The Chicago Heights Police Department released a statement Tuesday that reads in part, "Ms. LaFond gave us no indication that Conner was impaired or that he had been previously drinking."

"All they want right now is they want justice for their deceased child who happened to be Kathie's only son," said Mark Horowitz, LaFond's attorney.

Horowitz said he does not believe LaFond bears any responsibility in the case.

The Will County state's attorney says that everything is under investigation, including the events leading up to the crash.


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