NIU fires embattled Police Chief Donald Grady - FOX 10 News |

NIU fires embattled Police Chief Donald Grady

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Officials at Northern Illinois University have fired the chief of the NIU Police Department.

The attorney for former Police Chief Donald Grady said he doesn't believe Grady's handling of a rape case against a university police officer is the lone factor in his firing Tuesday. The officer, Andrew Rifkin, was accused of sexually assaulting a student, but charges against him were eventually dismissed. Grady was placed on leave in November during an investigation of the department's handling of that case.

Attorney Michael Fox said an investigation into an off-the-books repository for proceeds from the sale of university-owned scrap metal and other materials contributed to Grady's dismissal. Eight NIU employees and one former employee were criminally charged Oct. 16.

"Is President (John) Peters responsible for those nine individuals?" Fox told the (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle. "Should he have known about that? Why is he treated any differently?"

Fox said university officials have no evidence Grady knew a subordinate, Lt. Kartik Ramakrishnan, had placed two witness statements in Rifkin's personnel file instead of turning them over to the state's attorney. He called Grady's termination "very unjust."

Grady had been praised for his department's actions after the Feb. 14, 2008, shootings on NIU's campus. That attack left five students and the gunman dead. Grady was one of the first officers to enter the lecture hall where the shootings took place. Survivors praised Grady for his bravery.

The case involving the sexual assault of a student was plagued by questions after it emerged that an investigator at the NIU Police Department failed to reveal statements from the student's friends, who claimed she and the officer were involved in a consensual relationship. Though it's never been explained why the department would suppress information that might have aided the former officer's defense, the judge in the case determined it was done intentionally and not as a result of an oversight.

Fox also was critical of NIU Acting Director of Public Safety Bill Nicklas' handling of Grady's review and the letter of termination he wrote to his client.

"We asked (Nicklas) what evidence do you have that (Grady) knew? His answer was silence," Fox said. "I think we're entitled to something more than silence when you take the career of a man of Chief Grady's status away."

In Nicklas' letter to Grady, he said he did not believe Grady's assertions that he wasn't involved with hiding the witness statements.

NIU officials say Acting Police Chief Darren Mitchell is now leading the department.

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