A Cook County judge found Riverside Village President Michael Gorman not guilty of two traffic offenses in connection with an April incident where a 39-year-old man on a bicycle claimed Gorman accidentally backed his car into him.
Judge Geary Kull announced the verdict during a bench trial Friday at the Maybrook courthouse.
Kull was appointed to hear the case after the county prosecutor made a motion to remove the judge initially assigned to the case, Gregory Vazquez, who is a Riverside resident.
Riverside police had issued Gorman tickets for failure to give aid/information at an accident with injuries and for improper backing. On April 8 at about 1:20 p.m., Gorman was backing out of a space in the parking lot next to the Riverside police station when he allegedly struck a man riding a bicycle through the lot. The man was knocked off the bike. The judge, however, ruled that it was inconclusive whether Gorman’s car actually struck the man.
Police reported that surveillance video footage showed Gorman get out of his car and talk with the man, who reportedly has a mental disability, for six minutes. After talking to Gorman, the man rode off on his bike. Gorman said he gave the man his business card at the scene and told police that the man didn’t appear to be hurt.
Later, the man told a relative that he hurt his shoulder when he fell off his bike after being hit by a car. The man’s father, Gerald Cegielski, said that because of his son’s disability, he wasn’t able to get a clear picture of what had happened. So Cegielski went to the Riverside Police Department on April 13 after coming home from out of town to see what record they had of the incident. It was then Cegielski found no report had been filed.
“This was a difficult situation for all involved,” said Gorman. “I felt I acted appropriately at the time given the circumstances, and I was willing to have a full airing of the facts in court in order to confirm that I did so. The court agreed that I did nothing wrong and found I was not guilty of any charges. However, the most important thing here is that the individual on the bicycle was fine.”
Cegielski said was disappointed in the verdict, but hoped it might have an effect on Gorman moving forward.
“If anything, I would hope in the future that Mike Gorman would show more compassion to the mentally disabled,” Cegielski said.
– Bob Uphues