Joliet woman defeats 2019 obstructing officer case

Konika Morrow, of Joliet, holding up Will County Judge Jessica Colón-Sayre's court order on Tuesday after she won her case on a charge of obstructing an officer.

A Will County judge granted a defense motion that led to the dismissal of a case against a Joliet woman charged with obstructing a Joliet police officer after a prayer vigil in 2019.

Judge Jessica Colón-Sayre granted the motion for a directed finding on Tuesday. The motion was delivered by Neil Patel, defense attorney for Konika Morrow, 44, of Joliet. Patel made the motion during bench trial for his client.

As a result, the case against Morrow was dismissed and she was acquitted of the charge.

“I’m just glad we were able to come out on a victory in this case,” Patel said.

Morrow said she was happy with the outcome. She accused the Joliet police officers in the case of lying about her.

“I didn’t do anything wrong and it was proven today,” Morrow said.

She held up Colón-Sayre’s court order, which said, “After the state rests, the defendant’s motion for a directed finding is granted. Judgment of acquittal enters.”

Morrow had been charged with obstructing Joliet Police Officer Alan Vertin on July 9, 2019, during his investigation of an incident involving a dirt biker rider.

Morrow had been tackled by Joliet Police Officer Adam Stapleton and placed under arrest on the charge of obstructing Vertin after she was told to stay back. She had also been initially arrested on probable cause of aggravated assault but that charge was never filed.

The obstructing charge stems from an incident at a prayer vigil on July 9, 2019, at Sacred Heart Church in Joliet. The vigil was interrupted by officers pursuing an ATV and a dirt bike.

In a series of screen shots from a cellphone video, Joliet police officers can be seen removing Joshwa Cooley from a dirt bike and restraining Konika Morrow on Tuesday, July 9, outside a South Ottawa Street church in Joliet, Ill.

Following the incident, Joliet police officials said in 2019 that officers pulled over one of the bikers and a “large crowd from the church came over and told Cooley not to talk to the police, and it was OK to ride ATVs in the street.”

Morrow said the person on the bike is her nephew, Joshwa Cooley. In the criminal complaint filed in the case, her nephew’s name is spelled Joshua Cooley.

During Tuesday’s trial, Joliet Police Officer Michael Steurer testified the man’s name was Jeremy Cooley. Morrow said afterward she didn’t know who that was.

The testimony about “Jeremy” Cooley led Colón-Sayre to ask prosecutors about Joshua Cooley, the name listed in the criminal complaint.

“I heard no testimony regarding a Joshua Cooley,” she said.

In Patel’s motion for a directed finding, he contended Morrow did not materially impede the performance of officers during the 2019 incident. He said there were other people at the scene who could’ve been arrested on the same charge but they weren’t.

There was no squad video from Stapleton’s and Vertin’s vehicles, which were right at the scene of the incident.

The only video shown during the trial came from the more distant vehicle of retired Joliet police Sgt. Javier Esqueda. He has his own upcoming trial on felony official misconduct charges in Kendall County.

Patel said the squad video available did not show Morrow swinging at Stapleton, which the officer had claimed in his testimony during the trial. Stapleton described the scene when he arrived on scene as chaotic and he heard people yelling.

When Patel asked Stapleton why he arrested Morrow, he said, “She was told to step back and she didn’t.”

In the testimony of Vertin and Steurer, they did not say they saw Morrow swinging at Stapleton.

Steuer testified he saw Morrow point at Stapleton’s face. Patel asked Steurer if it was true that he never said that to a police sergeant in a 2019 internal affairs interview.

“If that’s a matter of the [internal affairs] record, then yes,” Steuer said.

On June 30, 2020, Morrow filed a federal lawsuit against Esqueda, Stapleton, Vertin and the city of Joliet. That case remains pending in court.