Unguarded criminals in hospital have OL bosses talking

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Two Oak Lawn trustees are calling on the village to re-examine its policies with Christ Medical Center regarding the release of patients who have been charged with a crime.
The concern comes following televised reports that a Lake Station, Ind., man facing murder and attempted murder charges left Christ Medical Center, 4440 W. 95th St., in February where he was being treated for gunshot wounds.
“The system failed us,” Trustee Robert Streit said.
Streit asked that the village board to consider an ordinance requiring the hospital to notify Oak Lawn police any time a criminal is admitted to the hospital. Trustees are expected to discuss an ordinance at their next committee meeting.
Police Chief Mike Murray said it’s the responsibility of the law enforcement agency in charge of a case to keep track of a suspect or to alert local police and seek assistance.
Police are notified when a shooting victim is brought to the hospital and family or gang members might show up seeking revenge, Murray said.
Streit brought the issue up at the May 13 village board meeting, saying he heard about Mark Cherry’s departure from the hospital on NBC5 Chicago News. He did not mention that Cherry’s departure from the hospital occurred in February, a clarification made by Village Manager Larry Deetjen.
“The incident we’re talking about tonight took place months ago,” Deetjen said. “In this particular case, there was no safety issue.”
Trustee Alex Olejniczak said the village should meet with hospital officials to ensure a similar incident will not happen.
“We still have to be concerned about how this happened,” Olejniczak said. “It’s going to happen again.”
Streit agreed.
He added that a suspected murder that leaves the hospital likely requires two things: money and transportation—needs that make him dangerous to the surrounding community.
“I think we’re all in danger when something like this happens,” he said. “There were no alerts. There were no emails. He was the subject of a nationwide manhunt.”
Trustee Mike Carberry chastised Streit for using the issue to blindside the board.
“There was a moment there when I thought you were bringing it up as a constructive action. Now I realize what you’re selling (and) it isn’t going to work,” Carberry said. “If you’re going to blindside your own people, Bob, that’s not good.”
Streit attempted to respond, but Mayor Sandra Bury halted the debate.
Cherry surrendered at the Lake County Jail on May 12. He is charged with murder in the shooting death of Rolando Correa, 22, and wounding two others during a drug-related incident in Gary.
Cherry was not held under police guard. Gary officers don’t typically guard prisoners outside Indiana where they have no jurisdiction, Gary police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said earlier.
Michael Kaufmann, Oak Lawn police division chief, said that Gary police did not inform his department about Cherry’s status as a criminal defendant in a murder case.
Christ Medical Center spokesman Mike Maggio refused to comment on this story, but in a previous statement said that the medical center “cannot legally detain a patient against his or her will. Without prior written consent from a patient, the hospital cannot alert another person or agency about a patient’s pending discharge.”