River Forest cops still mum about July shooting

Attorney General wants to see FOIAed documents

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By Jean Lotus

Contributing reporter

The River Forest Police Department has remained silent following the police-involved shooting on July 12 of Matthew Watson, 24, in the 100 block of Lathrop Avenue. The department has denied Freedom of Information requests submitted by Wednesday Journal for police reports prior to the incident at the address where the shooting occurred. 

Watson was killed in front of his home in the early hours of a Sunday morning after firing a shotgun at River Forest police officers. Police found the body of William S. Carlson, 60, of Markesan, Wisconsin inside the house. Watson's mother, Susan Watson was also wounded by a shotgun blast. 

The evening of the shooting, Green Lake County, Wisconsin, sheriff's police discovered an illegal marijuana grow operation in the late William Carlson's garage at W2813 Kahl Road, Markesan, with more than 3,400 grams of marijuana and 25 live plants, valued at $10,000. 

According to Green Lake County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Mark Putzke, the investigation is still open because the department is waiting for the local district attorney to close the case. 

"If the district attorney confirms [William Carlson] really is the guy who owns the grow, we can simply close the investigation," Putzke said Monday.

Also on Monday, River Forest Deputy Chief James O'Shea said Susan Watson was released from Loyola Medical Center on Aug. 4 and returned to her home in Wisconsin.

It is unclear whether Susan Watson resides at the Kahl Road address, which was purchased by William Carlson in 2012, according to the Green County Register of Deeds. 

Two officers were injured by Watson's shotgun fire, but O'Shea said both have recovered and are back on patrol duties. Those two officers, Sgt. Chris Pate and Officer Dan Humphreys, were honored Monday at the meeting of the River Forest Village Board and presented with commendations.

The Illinois State Police were asked to investigate the shooting of Matthew Watson, as part of the protocol for any police-involved shooting in River Forest. Illinois State Police Chief Public Information Officer Sgt. Matt Boerwinkle said in an email Monday the investigation is still ongoing and no further information would be released at this time.

In July, Freedom of Information requests by Wednesday Journal for records of past incidents at 116 Lathrop Ave. or email contact with Watson family members were denied by the department pending the closing of the investigation.

Wednesday Journal appealed those denials to the Public Access Counselor at the Illinois Attorney General's Office.

On July 22, the attorney general's office sent a letter to River Forest Police asking for copies of the documents in question and received no response. On Aug. 18, Assistant Attorney General Shannon Barnaby sent a second letter to the River Forest Police.

"The department must provide this office with copies of the records for our confidential review," Barnaby wrote.  "As we have not yet heard from the department, we hereby reiterate our requests."

Donna Ludvik of the River Forest Police Department told Wednesday Journal the department would be sending the police reports in question to the attorney general's office Monday.

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