Evanston Police investigation: No racial profiling in Greenwell incident

Susan Du, City Editor

The Evanston Police officer who wrongfully handcuffed a Northwestern professor’s son has been cleared of racial profiling after an internal investigation.

During a burglary investigation in August, EPD officer Mark Buell briefly handcuffed Diwani Greenwell, the 13-year-old son of Medill Prof. Ava Thompson Greenwell. EPD officials said Diwani matched the description of a burglary suspect, which detailed a “black male wearing blue cargo shorts.”

The Greenwell family claims the detainment essentially hinged on a vague and widely applicable racial description and that EPD showed an excessive amount of force by using handcuffs and surrounding him with officers in front of his own home.

An EPD report to be presented to Evanston aldermen this week classifies Greenwell’s allegation of racial profiling as “unfounded.” The report points out that Diwani was pursued because he matched the description and appeared to elude other officers as they approached him.

“These are the reasons he was detained,” the report reads. “There is no credible evidence to support otherwise, and certainly not to support the accusation of racial profiling.”

The report also clears Buell of other alleged misconduct, including refusing to answer Greenwell’s questions and having a “condescending attitude” throughout the ordeal.

The internal investigation included interviews with the Greenwell family, police officers involved in the original burglary case and civilian witnesses,  as well as audio and video surveillance records.

In September, Diwani’s mother filed a federal lawsuit against Buell and Evanston. Although the city was dropped as a defendant in the case earlier this week, the family’s attorney said the case against Buell will continue.

Greenwell family attorney Christopher Cooper told the Chicago Tribune that the internal investigation was a “cover up by a small-time police agency that really needs to take lessons from the larger agencies on how to stop-and-frisk.”

— Susan Du