Judge weighs dismissal of charge against deputy in Joliet crash that injured 6

Andrew Schwartz

A judge will decide on whether to dismiss an indictment that took a special prosecutor over eighth months to file against a Will County Sheriff’s deputy in connection with a major Joliet crash.

Judge Dave Carlson heard arguments Wednesday between Special Prosecutor Bill Elward and Jeff Tomczak, the attorney for Andrew Schwartz, 38, regarding the Dec. 8 aggravated reckless driving indictment. Carlson plans to issue a written ruling by Monday.

The indictment stems from an April 4 wreck on Plainfield Road. George Kou-Kou, 21, crashed into a vehicle occupied by Philip Juarez and four of his family members, according to police.

Kou-Kou, a male passenger in his car, and the four Juarez family members were hospitalized as a result.

Kou-Kou, who was also indicted on a charge of aggravated reckless driving, did not appear in court on Wednesday, which led to a warrant for his arrest.

George Joseph Kou-Kou

Elward’s indictment accused Schwartz, who was off duty on April 4, of driving a Dodge Ram pickup and chasing Kou-Kou for more than 10 minutes in until Kou-Kou “crossed into oncoming lanes of traffic” on Plainfield Road and collided with another vehicle.

Tomczak said the indictment was vague. He argued the allegations that Schwartz drove at a “high rate of speed” and was engaged in a pursuit were not enough to support the aggravated reckless driving charge.

Tomczak said the indictment wasn’t specific on which vehicle had “crossed into oncoming lanes of traffic.”

“It’s not a clear indictment,” Tomczak.

The scene of a two-vehicle crash on Sunday, April 4, 2021, on Plainfield Road in Joliet

Elward said that section of the indictment refers to Kou-Kou’s vehicle. He said the indictment charges Schwartz with chasing Kou-Kou and that if not for Schwartz’s conduct, Kou-Kou would’ve never crashed into the Juarez family’s vehicle.

“We’ve charged it appropriately,” Elward said.

Elward filed a written response that said the case arises out of a “road rage incident” where Schwartz “exchanged obscene gestures” with Kou-Kou.

Elward said Schwartz’s vehicle was “supposedly hit” by Kou-Kou’s vehicle, causing “minor damage to the rear bumper” of Schwartz’s vehicle. Kou-Kou then left the scene, he said. Schwartz called in Kou-Kou’s license plate to 911 and was told he did not need to pursue, Elward said.

“The People’s theory is that while Kou-Kou’s car struck the Juarez vehicle, the crash could not have occurred without the reckless driving of both Schwartz and Kou-Kou,” Elward said.

Elward contended his indictment “spells out the defendant’s conduct and the grave consequences to the victims of his and Kou-Kou’s conduct.”

Tomczak said Schwartz is a victim of an aggravated battery and other felonies stemming from the first crash involving Kou-Kou. He said someone in Kou-Kou’s vehicle tossed a cup of liquid into Schwartz’s vehicle, rear-ended him and didn’t stop.

The scene of a two-vehicle crash on Sunday, April 4, 2021, on Plainfield Road in Joliet