CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) --A suburban police chief is in trouble with the law. He was arrested by Illinois State Police after a bizarre traffic incident and now the accused chief is pointing fingers himself.
At 2 a.m. Monday, Jose Maldonado turned on his police car strobe lights as he drove in Chicago, a long way from Chicago Heights where he is a Park District Police Chief. A few minutes later, a state police trooper pulled him over and arrested him. He is now facing 10 charges including DUI. But Chief Maldonado is still chief and his attorney claims the State Trooper had it out for him.
Chuck Goudie: Can you tell me what happened?
Chief Jose Maldonado: It was an isolated incident that occurred and it's going to be taken care of."
The incident started on a ramp to the Dan Ryan Expressway.
State police say they were investigating an accident here when Chief Maldonado tried to drive down the closed entrance ramp-nearly striking a vehicle. They say he then activated these strobe lights on his personally-owned vehicle, backing up the ramp and speeding off.
"His fiance was sitting next to him and she started having chest pains and having a panic attack so he put his lights on," says Stuart Goldberg, attorney for Chief Maldonado.
Maldonado was arrested a mile away at 22nd and Laflin. Police records show he's facing 10 charges including speeding 35 mph or more over the limit, backing up on a highway, DUI and carrying a gun while under the influence.
"I am still innocent to anything besides a court of law has to be taking place and I'm very, very sure that I'll be found not guilty of anything," Maldonado says.
"At this point I have counted 12 things procedurally wrong that the Illinois state police did," says Goldberg.
Even though Chief Maldonado is a police officer, his attorney says Maldonado was the victim of police mistreatment.
"In an enhanced aggravated masculinity moment a Puerto Rican Illinois state trooper took a well-dressed Burberry wearing suit Mexican chief of police out of the car," Goldberg says. "This was this mano a mano moment between two Hispanic police officers and the Illinois State Trooper just kept saying we are the ultimate policing authority in this state, I don't care who you are."
The Chicago Heights Park District Superintendent, Frank Perez says he notified Maldonado's top police deputy but didn't notify members of the Park District Board whom they all report to.
Maldonado was just hired last fall. In 2013 he worked at Cook County Jail as a probationary correctional officer. According to an exit interview, he was let go for violating Sheriff's Department rules that prohibit membership in criminal organizations.
Goudie: You know they fired you because they claimed you had gang connections?
Chief Maldonado: I believe, like I said, I cannot speak on that.
The gang reference that cost Maldonado his jail job was from a Chicago police contact card filled out years ago according to his attorney and might have been mistaken identity. And late word tonight from state police; they say the gun Maldonado had when he was taken into custody has been returned to him and they call it a lawful arrest.
Read the full Illinois State Police press release here