Darrin Hanna’s girlfriend speaks out
By Judy Masterson firstname.lastname@example.org May 1, 2012 9:14PM
Dionne Wilcox (left), 21, of Waukegan talks about the night last November when she was with her boyfriend Darrin Hanna when North Chicago police arrested him. Darrin's mother, Gloria Carr, sits next to her in Carr's home in North Chicago. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 1, 2012 1:58AM
The young woman who was Darrin Hanna’s girlfriend, and who gave birth to his daughter on Jan. 31, said Hanna did not try to drown her, as North Chicago police reported during an extensive investigation into his arrest and consequent death Nov. 13.
Dionne Wilcox, 21, of Waukegan said in a Tuesday interview arranged by Gloria Carr, Hanna’s mother, that she and Hanna did fight the night of Nov. 6 inside his newly-rented apartment at 1649 Park Ave. She said Hanna, 45, had heard a rumor that she was cheating, and that after they argued, he slapped and punched her when she tried to leave the apartment.
Wilcox said she took a bath to calm down and that she and Hanna were sitting on the end of the bed in the dark when police broke through the apartment door with their guns drawn. Hanna did not yell “Shoot me, shoot me,” as officers reported, Wilcox said, but stood up and walked toward the door.
Wilcox said she ran from the apartment because she was afraid she would be shot.
‘I heard the guns click — I didn’t want my baby to get shot,” she said.
But police, including veteran Sgt. Salvatore Cecala, one of seven officers placed on desk duty after Hanna’s death, and Wilcox’s own sister, Darlene Wilcox, tell a different story. Cecala said Dionne, her hair wet, came running naked, screaming hysterically. down a building staircase and into his arms and told him Hanna had tried to drown her. He told investigators with the Illinois State Police Integrity Unit that Hanna had tried to drown Wilcox once before, in an incident two weeks earlier at the nearby home of his mother. Carr denies that happened and her attorneys say a police report of an incident at Carr’s home does not mention an attempted drowning.
According to a witness statement filed with North Chicago Police, Darlene Wilcox said Dionne called her crying at 8:55 p.m. and said Darrin was upset over a number on her cellphone. She called police after arriving at the apartment a few minutes later.
Dionne Wilcox also gave police a statement that was “re-written” by Darlene, according to ISP documents, that said Hanna punched and slapped her, “tried” to put her face in hot water, and that he threatened to kill both her and her unborn baby.
But Dionne, who said she takes medication for ADHD and bipolar disorder, said her sister lied on the statement.
“She hated Darrin,” Dionne said. “She never wanted us to be together.”
Carr said she asked Dionne to go public after a comment by attorney Laura Scarry, who is defending officers named in a federal wrongful death brought by the Hanna family. Scarry reportedly said Hanna “got what he deserved.”
Ralph Peterson, Hanna’s cousin, said he hopes a federal investigation will prove that police colluded on falsifying reports.
“If Darrin had tried to drown Dionne, that’s attempted murder,” Peterson said. “But they never charged him with attempted murder, Because they used excessive force for a domestic squabble, they had to raise the stakes.”
While the Lake County State’s Attorney found that police used reasonable force during the arrest, an independent, internal investigation, commissioned by the city, found that Officer Brandon Yost, who admitted to punching Hanna twice in the face, lied when he said Hanna tried to bite and head-butt him and that he also lied on a Use of Force Report. Yost, a six-year-veteran of the force, was fired on Friday by interim Chief James Jackson. Ten-year veteran Officer Arthur Strong was suspended 30 days without pay, also for falsifying a report by claiming Hanna came out of the bedroom swinging a flashlight. Chief Jackson did not return a call seeking comment.
Peterson and Carr say those findings taint the results of every investigation into the arrest.
“If one falsifies a report and the other officers don’t come forward to say it didn’t happen that way, they’re accessories,” Peterson said.