WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Sheriff Issues Statement but Doesn't Take Questions

Feb 6, 2018

McDonough County Sheriff Rick VanBrooker has provided a written statement in response to the release of audio from a 911 call that details a reckless driving complaint against him.

Tri States Public Radio was the first news outlet to report on the events on April 4. You can read the article and hear the 911 call audio by clicking here.

Tri States Public Radio spoke with Sheriff Rick VanBrooker over the phone early Tuesday afternoon. He would not discuss the statement he emailed to the media and he would not agree to answer any questions about the incident.

Because VanBrooker is the subject of this particular incident, Tri States Public Radio asked if any of the sheriff’s deputies who were working that evening and responded to the call would be able to talk about it.
VanBrooker said it's department policy that the Sheriff is the only person to make public statements unless the Sheriff explicitly gives permission. VanBrooker said he will not allow any of the deputies to discuss the incident publicly, though he said he cannot stop the candidates running to replace him from talking about it politically.  

VanBrooker, a Republican, announced in June of last year he would not seek reelection. Three Republican candidates are running to replace him. Two of them work for the department: Chief Deputy Nick Petitgout and Detective Justin Lundgren.  The third candidate is Bryan Baca, the operations warden for the Illinois Department of Corrections facility in Canton. All three candidates live in Macomb.

In his emailed statement, VanBrooker wrote that he was driving to Macomb on April 4, 2017, when he experienced the onset of what felt like vertigo. VanBrooker said he pulled off the road and into a drive way to let the feeling pass. He admits to speaking with a man and telling him he was getting comfortable and needed a minute.

VanBrooker said he did not elaborate so that the man would not call an ambulance. He said the feeling passed and he drove home.

VanBrooker said in his statement that the Sheriff’s deputies responded appropriately by searching the area where the call came from before finding him at home. VanBrooker said  nothing was covered up.

You can read the full statement the Sheriff sent to Tri States Public Radio here.

This is a developing story and Tri States Public Radio will update it as information becomes available. Previous reporting can be found here.