Law and Order, Local Police Reports, Park Forest

Officer Draws Weapon After Man Allegedly Does Not Stop His SUV During Pursuit

An officer stands ready, draws a weapon
Park Forest’s Officer Bolin stands ready. (PFPD)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- It is no small matter when an officer draws a weapon in Park Forest. In my years of reporting, from 2007 to the present, that has not happened often. So it caught my eye when I read that in early January an officer did just that, however, drawing his weapon and crouching into a “low and ready position” after an alleged pursuit when a man did not stop his SUV as the officer followed with his patrol vehicle’s lights flashing and siren screaming.

An officer was parked stationary on Blackhawk Drive just north of Shabbona Drive attempting to locate Riley M. Vercher, 23, of Park Forest. In October 2022, the same officer conducted a traffic stop on a blue Dodge Durango. During that traffic stop, the officer established probable cause to search the vehicle which allegedly yielded the recovery of a fraudulent Illinois driver’s license that had a picture of Mr. Vercher, according to police.

The officer recovered the driver’s license as evidence that day, however, Mr. Vercher was not present, according to police.

The officer made attempts since that time to locate Mr. Vercher with no success. Eventually, on December 28, 2022, the officer contacted the Cook County Felony Review Unit and an Associates States Attorney approved felony charges of possession of a fraudulent ID card against Mr. Vercher, according to the report.

The officer heard that Mr. Vercher’s vehicle often traveled through a certain area of town in the mid-afternoon. So, at approximately 4:30 PM on this day, January 2, 2023, the officer saw Mr. Vercher’s Dodge traveling southbound on Blackhawk Drive towards Shabbona Drive, according to police. The officer followed the Dodge and activated the emergency lighting on his patrol vehicle in an attempt to curb the vehicle.

The vehicle subsequently turned southbound onto Shabbona Drive and allegedly continued southbound passing Sangamon Street, Sauganash Street, Seminole Street, and Seneca Street, according to police.

Seeing that the vehicle was making no attempts to stop or curb, the officer activated the emergency siren on his patrol vehicle and continue to follow.

The Dodge continued southbound on Shabbona Drive passing Sioux Street and Somonauk Street, according to police. The vehicle then began to brake and maneuvered into the bike lane as if it was about to curb and stop, according to police. But the SUV did not stop, police said. Instead, it allegedly continued southbound, passing Nauvoo Street into Will County, Tioga Street, and Titonka Street before pulling into a driveway in the 200 block of Shabbona Drive.

Officer Draws Weapon

The officer immediately exited his patrol vehicle and drew his firearm in the “low ready position” and gave the driver, who he now identified as Mr. Vercher, commands to put his hands outside the window, according to the report. Mr. Vercher initially complied and then began honking the horn of the vehicle which brought a number of people from the residence, according to police.

The officer ordered Mr. Vercher out of the vehicle onto his knees and, this time, he complied, according to police.

Due to the large number of people exiting the residence, the officer requested additional Park Forest officers to respond to the scene, according to police. After other officers arrived, police took Mr. Vercher into custody without further resistance, according to the report. Mr. Vercher was transported to the Park Forest Police Department and his vehicle was towed from the scene, according to police.

Riley M. Vercher, 23, 111 Sycamore Dr., Park Forest, was arrested on January 2 and charged with suspended registration, driving while his license was suspended, operation of an uninsured motor vehicle, and fleeing/eluding a peace officer.

Police held Mr. Vercher in custody pending transport to Markham Courthouse regarding the felony charges from October 2022.

About Police Reports

Please note that we repeatedly say “according to police” in these reports and often use “allegedly.” We are not asserting in any way that those police arrested and charged committed any offenses. We report on what is in the reports that the police furnish to us. As those accused are innocent until proven guilty, the burden is on prosecutors and police to prove all alleged crimes.

eNews Park Forest has continuously published the addresses of those arrested and will continue to do so. 5 ILCS 140/2.15 states that the governmental body (for these reports, the Police Department), shall release information on those charged, including their name, age, and address. This information is necessary to ensure the proper identity of those arrested.

Presumption of Innocence

An arrest does not mean that a person is guilty. The law presumes all those whom police arrest are innocent until proven guilty. It is the policy of eNews Park Forest not to remove items from the public record from publication. Suppose you find your name in the police reports. Our policy is that we will only add information relevant to the final disposition of the case at hand, e.g., “Mr. Smith was subsequently acquitted,” “Mr. Smith entered a guilty plea,” or “All charges against Mr. Smith were subsequently dropped.” We will do so upon receiving and verifying proof of such disposition.

We do not strike, “unpublish,” or delete news.

Police captured all the incidents in this report on body-worn and dash-mounted cameras by officers at the respective scenes, according to police. All Park Forest police officers wear body-worn cameras. Officials typically abbreviate these devices as BWC in the reports.

We encourage persons wishing to leave anonymous information on any criminal matters, including narcotics or gang activity, to call the Park Forest Police Department Investigations Division at (708) 748-1309.