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Des Plaines Was Right to Fire Cop Accused of Beating Prisoner: Judge

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A Cook County judge has ruled that Des Plaines was justified in its firing of former police officer John Bueno who is accused of using excessive force on a prisoner.

Bueno was fired in March for violating the city's use of force policy, failing to disclose use of force, and lying to internal investigators. However, an arbitrator ruled Bueno should have received a 15-month suspension and ordered he be reinstated. Des Plaines appealed the arbitrator's ruling.

"We are extremely pleased with the judge’s support for our position that Mr. Bueno should no longer be a Des Plaines police officer,” said Des Plaines City Manager Michael Bartholomew.

“The facts of this case have never been in dispute. The issue has been how severe the discipline should be. We believe strongly that Mr. Bueno gave up the privilege of being a Des Plaines Police Officer when he violated the City’s use of force policy, failed to report his use of force on more than one occasion, and then fabricated a story when questioned about these incidents,” he said.

Bueno was fired after an internal investigation found that he used excessive force against an individual in his custody. Bueno failed to report the August 2010 incident to his superiors and also provided false information to investigators, a press release from the city states.

Previously, the Journal and Topics reported that there was evidence Bueno had beaten as many as three people in different incidents dating back to 2009 during the arbitration hearing. But the arbitrator noted that Des Plaines law enforcement leadership at the time did not investigate the incidents promptly.

Bill Kushner was named Des Plaines chief of police in August 2012.

Kushner said the department has been working hard over the last several months to strengthen the relationship between Des Plaines police officers and community members.

“This ruling sends the right message to those we serve: Officers that exceed our expectations deserve our praise. At the same time, we need to be decisive and firm in cases where officers fall short of the high standards we set for them,” Kushner said. “This former officer was found to have violated our rules and regulations and also the trust Des Plaines residents placed in him to serve them professionally. That’s why I fully support our efforts to terminate him and I applaud Judge Hall’s decision.”

In a separate legal matter, Bueno also has sued the city alleging racial discrimination.

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