SPD Mistrial Saga: City Accused of Withholding Documents in Federal Lawsuit; Failed attempt to get press kicked out of courtroom leads to Informants Identity

(Left) – Springfield Police Sergeant James Wangard (Top Middle) – Springfield Corporation Counsel Attorneys Steve Rahn and Nick Correll (Bottom Middle) Marreon C. Perkins and Devon K. Warner (Right) Springfield Police Detective Evan DeLude

A Springfield resident, Toni Wilson, says that on October 1, 2018, Springfield Police Sergeant James Wangard (pictured above) and Officers Justin Spaid, Lindzee Carpenter, and Evan DeLude of the Springfield Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit are the reason she was shot twice while sitting on her front porch. Wilson claims that Sergeant Wangard’s repeated statements on Facebook Live, labeling her son, Steven Wells, as a snitch, made her a target. However, the City of Springfield and four Springfield Police Officers argue that Sergeant Wangard’s statements didn’t lead to Wilson getting shot. Instead, they argue that her previous homes were targeted by unknown shooter(s), citing it as another instance.

In 2018, Sergeant Wangard, a member of the Springfield Police Department Street Crimes Unit, arrested a juvenile who, during the arrest streamed on Facebook Live, and repeatedly asked who snitched. In response, Sergeant Wangard said, “Steven Wells is the snitch. Steven Wells.”  However, it was not Wells, who had snitched on the juvenile.

According to police records, the juveniles were showing a weapon on Snapchat, and their location was visible, which helped members of the Springfield Police Street Crimes Unit in locating and arresting them.  Although Sergeant Wangard knew that Wells was not the snitch, he repeatedly mentioned it during the Facebook Live, and at one point, he even looked directly at the camera and said Wells’ name.

Six days later, after the arrest of the Juveniles, Wilson was shot while sitting on the front porch of her home.

(ABOVE) – Video of the Facebook Live where Sergeant Wangard tells Tyvell L. Stennis that “Steven Wells is the snitch.” If you are unable to view the video, CLICK HERE.

On Monday, Wilson’s daughter testified that after the Facebook Live Video went viral, she received several unknown phone calls threatening her family’s safety. Wilson’s daughter stated that in one of those phone calls, an unidentified individual even threatened to harm her mother. She also testified that she regretted not informing her mother about the threatening phone calls. Instead, she chose to report the threats to the Springfield Police Department. However, the officers she spoke to did not file a police report. She told the jury, “I was given a business card.”

Sergeant Wangard, who also testified Monday, stated that he is currently a member of the Springfield Police Department’s Pro-Active Crime Unit (PAC), which specializes in drug enforcement. When Sergeant Wangard was asked by Louis Meyer, Wilson’s Attorney, if he guarantees the protection of his Confidential Informants’ identities from being revealed, Wangard told the jury that he does not, and explained that he informs his confidential informants that their identity may be disclosed in court paperwork.  Sergeant Wangard also testified that he didn’t inform his supervisors of the incident immediately. He only did so after receiving a phone call from Sangamon County Assistant State’s Attorney, Andrew Affrunti, who questioned him about the video.

On Tuesday, retired Springfield Lieutenant Robert Markovic, current Lieutenant Brian Oakes, Deputy Chief Joshua Stuenkel, Sergeant Justin Spaid and Wilson were called to testify.   

Retired Lieutenant Markovic testified that his job wasn’t to investigate whether the threats made against Wilson’s family, which occurred after the Facebook Live video, were related to the shooting. “My job is to investigate the officer’s conduct,” Markovic testified. When asked if he believed the shooting was connected to the Facebook Live video, Lieutenant Markovic responded, “I don’t think it was.”

Lieutenant Brian Oakes, who testified that he had seen portions of the Facebook Live Video, said that he was in charge of reviewing the findings from the Internal Affairs Investigation and then writing a report to summarize the investigation.  Oakes, who acknowledged that he is friends with Sergeant Wangard outside of work, recommended that Sergeant Wangard should be removed from the Springfield Police Department Street Crimes Unit. While testifying, Lieutenant Oakes said it was a very tough decision in making that recommendation, “one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.”  However, at one point, he expressed regret with his recommendation, saying, “If I could take it back, I would.”

Ultimately, former Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow chose not to remove Sergeant Wangard from the Springfield Police Department Street Crimes Unit but did impose a 3-day suspension.

During Deputy Chief Joshua Stuenkel’s testimony, we learned more about the potential suspect in the still-unsolved shooting of Wilson.

Marreon C. Perkins

Deputy Chief Stuenkel testified that Marreon C. Perkins (pictured above) was initially identified as the suspect in the shooting of Wilson. According to police reports discussed in open court, in November 2018, Springfield Police Detectives Redpath and Oldham met with Perkins in the parking lot of McDonald’s on W. Monroe St. Perkins, who informed the detectives that his house had been shot at on Saturday night, stated that he was at home during the time Wilson was shot. According to the detectives, Perkins mentioned that he began receiving phone calls from several associates, who asked him about a shooting incident in Popular Ave and whether he may have been involved. Perkins told detectives that he had no involvement in the shooting and never was in Popular Ave.

Deputy Chief Stuenkel also testified that Perkins was questioned about another shooting which occurred on Gregory Court. According to detectives, Perkins admitted to being in the area during the shots fired call. Perkins, who was visiting the area, told the detectives that he was leaving a house when he noticed someone with whom he had a bad history with, approaching him. As he was leaving, Perkins said he heard shots fired at him and saw who was shooting. He told detectives he didn’t shoot back and stayed in his car. Perkins, who was listed as the victim and suspect in this shooting, said he was the victim and that he stopped playing with guns in 2017.  At the end of this interview with detectives, Perkins was free to go.

Marcus D. Little Jr.

Deputy Chief Stuenkle told the Jury that Perkins did identify an individual named Marcus Little (pictured above) as the individual who was shooting at him. According to court records, in August, Little was sentenced in Sangamon County to 2 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for possession of a weapon as a felon in a separate case. He is currently in custody in the Champaign County Jail, awaiting trial after being indicted there for being a felon possessing/using a firearm and aggravated battery/discharge of a firearm.

After Deputy Chief Stuenkle’s testimony, the Jury was allowed to ask questions.

The first question, from a jury member, asked Deputy Chief Stuenkle, “Would the shooting of Ms. Wilson have been added into the initial IA (Internal Affairs) narrative if the shooting had happened before the report was drafted?” Deputy Chief Stuenkle confirmed that it would have.

Jury Question Number 1 for Deputy Chief Joshua Stuenkle

The second question from a jury member was: “The mention of the 40 caliber casings in Ms. Wilson being shot and another shooting (Gregory Court shooting). Were they confirmed to be from the same gun?” Deputy Chief Stuenkle replied, “yes.”

However, Deputy Chief Stuenkle’s confirmation about the casings coming from the same gun doesn’t match what was reported in a police report. On October 16, 2018, Detective Harhausen wrote in his report that when he spoke with Carolyn from the ISP Crime Lab, she told him that there was no match between the two casings (from Ms. Wilson and the shooting on Gregory Court).

Jury Question Number 2 for Deputy Chief Joshua Stuenkle

Sergeant Justin Spaid, who was a patrol officer at the time, was known as the “social media guy” within the Springfield Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit (SCU). During his testimony, Sergeant Spaid said, “social media is extremely useful” for the Street Crimes Unit and that he would create a fake Snapchat and Facebook account and befriend people to monitor their accounts. When questioned about T.S., the juvenile who live-streamed Sergeant Wangard calling Wells a snitch, Sergeant Spaid mentioned that he was familiar with T.S. (Tyvell L. Stennis) from the streets and actively monitored his Snapchat account. During his testimony, Sergeant Spaid also discussed Stennis’ gang affiliation, describing him as a younger wannabe. “Kind of a poser, wannabe kid, trying to find somewhere to belong to,” Segeant Spaid said. “He tried with B.P. (Boss Playa) but transitioned to SQUAD.” Sergeant Spaid acknowledged on the stand that he did hear Sergeant Wangard say Wells’ name 3 times and thought that Stennis was doing a video call. When asked by Attorney Meyer if he believed anyone’s rights were being violated, Sergeant Spaid said he did not. In Attorney Meyer’s effort to identify that Perkins, the suspect in Wilson’s shooting, had watched the live-streamed video, Attorney Meyer questioned Sergeant Spaid about the identity of the “Pety Capo” Facebook account. The Facebook user had commented, stating that he would beat their ass, followed by three laughing face emojis. Sergeant Spaid confirmed that “Pety Capo” was Marreon Perkins and confirmed that he was “a real gang member.”

Sergeant Spaid confirmed that “Pety Capo” was Marreon Perkins and confirmed that he was “a real gang member.”

Wilson testified that she has lived in Springfield since she was 3 years old and works in healthcare, serves as a bus monitor, and assists special needs children. She told the jury that on October 1, 2018, she was sitting on her front porch, discussing with her neighbor what to get the kids for Halloween, when someone came from behind the house and began shooting. “It went by so fast; I didn’t see anyone,” Wilson said. “My leg was burning; it was hurting so bad.”

Wilson also explained that the shooting didn’t just affect her physically, but also emotionally and mentally. She mentioned having nightmares and getting medication from her doctor, in addition to going through physical therapy and having surgery seven months later to remove the bullet from her hip.

In an effort to show that Sergeant Wangard’s statements didn’t lead to Wilson getting shot, Steve Rahn, the Assistant Corporation Counsel representing the City of Springfield and the four police officers, questioned Wilson about prior shootings at her previous homes. According to police reports, there were three prior shootings at Wilson’s previous homes. In July 2014, an unknown individual(s) fired multiple gunshots at her residence on Pope Street. In April and October of 2015, two more shootings occurred at Wilson’s home on Lawrence Avenue. Additionally, City Attorney Rahn asked about Wilson’s statements to detectives, including whether she mentioned someone living in the neighborhood as a possible suspect. Wilson replied that she couldn’t remember. Attorney Amanda Yarusso, co-counsel with Attorney Meyer, followed up with additional questioning and asked Wilson how long has it been since a residence of yours was shot at? Wilson replied, “Four years.” Yarusso also asked Wilson if anyone from the City or the Springfield Police Department ever apologized or said, “I’m sorry this happened to you.” Wilson replied, “No.”

Day of Mistrial

(Left to Right) City of Springfield Corporation Counsel Attorneys Steve Rahn and Nick Correll

At 9:55 a.m. on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, Attorney Meyer announced, “Plaintiff rests.” The jury was then taken out, and a few final motions were discussed with U.S. District Court Judge Sue Myerscough. Following Judge Myerscough’s rulings on the final motions, City Attorney Rahn requested that the courtroom be closed. He explained, “So the press doesn’t hear about an informant that Springfield Police Detective DeLude will be testifying about.” City Attorney Rahn added, “The informant is not a confidential informant, though.”

Judge Myerscough then ordered all attorneys to her chamber. Shortly afterwards, the attorneys and Judge returned, and the jury was told to come back in.

Detective DeLude took the witness stand.

Detective Evan DeLude

Assistant Corporation Counsel, Nick Correll, who recently became the Springfield Police Department Legal Advisor in April, began questioning Detective DeLude. City Attorney Correll asked Detective DeLude about D.W., who was with Stennis during the traffic stop that Stennis live-streamed on Facebook. City Attorney Correll inquired whether D.W., previously identified as Devon Warner in open court by previous witnesses and on the live-stream, was taken in for questioning at the Springfield Police Department.

D.W. – Devon K. Warner

Detective DeLude confirmed that Warner was taken in for questioning and that Warner provided information that led to several firearms being recovered. Detective DeLude also mentioned that Warner “knew it was a joke” when Sergeant Wangard mentioned Wells’ name.

Detective DeLude was then asked about a shooting that took place on September 15, 2018. According to Detective DeLude’s testimony, there was a shooting involving B.P. and SQUAD at 18th and South Grand. He stated that during the incident, one vehicle pulled up behind another and fired 7 shots. The shooting left a 20-year-old female passenger paralyzed. When asked about the suspect in this shooting, Detective DeLude identified the suspect as “Steven Wells.”

OBJECTION! – yelled Attorney Meyer.

“Was this disclosed in discovery? This is completely unrelated. We weren’t given any documents or police reports,” Meyers told Judge Myerscough.

The jury was then instructed to disregard Detective DeLude’s testimony and was dismissed out of the courtroom.

City Attorney Rahn then handed Attorney Meyer’s a police report. After Attorney Meyer’s reviewed the police report, he told City Attorney Rahn, “Our whole theory of the case is right there (in this police report). THIS IS RIDICULOUS!”

Attorney Meyer told Judge Myerscough, “I was just handed this document. The document was never produced to us. Throughout the entire report, it says Perkins was a suspect in the shooting of Ms. Wilson.”

City Attorney Rahn said, “The plaintiff asked for anything related to Detective Wangard and Wilson. I was informed of the document last night. It was brought to my attention last night.”

Judge Myerscough reviewed the documents herself and told Attorney Meyer that she could see why he would be upset. “This is a sanctions violation. Are you asking for a mistrial?” Judge Myerscough asked. Attorney Meyer then requested a mistrial. Judge Myerscough agreed and declared a mistrial. The jury was then brought back into the courtroom.

“I am declaring a mistrial,” Judge Myerscough told the Jury. “In my 38 years, this is the first time I’ve had to have done this.”

A sanctions violation hearing for the City Attorneys is scheduled for November 20th at 3:00 p.m.

Immediately after court concluded on Wednesday, we asked City Attorney Rahn if the City would be considering settling this case. “It’s too early to call,” City Attorney Rahn replied.

Haley Wilson, the Director of Communications for the City, tells us, “At this time, we are unable to comment until the conclusion. It is imperative to clarify that the City of Springfield and its officers are the defendants in these proceedings and did not instigate the present legal action. We will be presenting a comprehensive defense of our officers and the City.”

Attorney Meyer told us, “It would be smart for them to settle.”

Over the course of the last few days, Springfield Leaks has received additional information regarding the shooting that took place on September 15, 2018 at 18th and South Grand. Despite Detective DeLude’s sworn testimony, in front of a jury, that Wells was the shooter in this shooting, the Springfield Police Department has documented evidence that Wells was not in fact the suspect in this shooting. On November 13, 2018, the Springfield Police got a letter from someone who said they knew who the person was that shot and paralyzed a 20-year-old woman. The Detectives met with the person who wrote the letter, but the results of that meeting are unclear. According to the letter the shooter confessed to intentionally shooting at one individual, but accidentally shot the female passenger.

*Editors note: Since the jury was given permission to speak about the case, if any member of the jury would like to speak to us regarding this case, you can email us at [email protected].

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