Skip to comments."He stood up and stomped on my head" (off-duty cop breaks up burglary, left high and dry by city)
Posted on 10/20/2003 3:44:56 PM PDT by Moose4
Doug Harroun was ready to hop in the car and head to church when he noticed a man slowly pacing in front of his neighbor's house in Bloomingdale.
An off-duty Addison police officer, Harroun's gut instinct told him something wasn't right. He ran inside and called the Bloomingdale Police Department. As he described the situation to the dispatcher, the sound of shattering glass reverberated across the yard.
"Tell the officers to watch for me. I'm going over there," he said.
His neighbor was a single mom. Harroun's mind raced: What if she's home? What if the invader grabbed the butcher knives on the counter inside the door? Harroun could walk into a blade his vest likely wouldn't stop.
He put his worries aside.
"I just reacted," he said. "Most people run away from trouble. As a police officer, you run to trouble."
And so he did.
Harroun had a violent scuffle with the 22-year-old burglar, later found to have been on a four-day methamphetamine and cocaine binge. Despite being repeatedly kicked in the head and elsewhere, Harroun managed to detain the man until police arrived.
For his help, Harroun ended up with lasting injuries his doctors say leave him unable to work. He has memory lapses. His comprehension is slow.
The 44-year-old cries when describing how he must look in his seventh-grade son's eyes. When they're at the grocery store, Harroun says, people treat him like he's "retarded" when he can't count the bills or understand their questions.
On top of all that, the village of Addison has refused to pay for his medical care. Harroun is now suing to reclaim his benefits.
His case also could have implications in the larger debate of when an off-duty officer should try to stop a crime.
"It is an issue that needs to be addressed because it has a chilling effect on any police officer in the state of Illinois from acting on a crime that is taking place in his view," said Don Phelan, Harroun's attorney. "If they are injured and they are not going to receive their full pay as they would if they were on duty, they are not going to act."
'He kicked me limp'
The morning of Dec. 9, 2001, is the last thing Harroun says he remembers clearly. Approaching his neighbor's house, he saw a man breaking the glass to the back door. He drew his gun and yelled that he was a police officer. The man lunged at Harroun. They struggled on the back porch and into the back yard, with Harroun taking more than two dozen kicks to the head, chest and groin. Although he never lost his weapon, Harroun said he never thought of firing it.
When he awoke in the hospital 48 hours later, he says, his life was altered. It now would consist of blackouts, panic attacks, depression, nightmares, tremors and trouble comprehending simple day-to-day tasks.
As Harroun describes his struggle with the burglar, his head tilts and his words sound slightly muffled, as if his tongue were shaking off Novocaine. Harroun slowly tells of wrapping his arms around the legs of the burglar, who kept yanking a leg free to give Harroun a kick in the head.
"He kicked me limp," Harroun said. "Then he stood up and started stomping on my head."
Doctors diagnosed him with a concussion and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
The 44-year-old now forgets words, stutters and has a short attention span.
"Thinking makes me get a headache," he said. "I try not to think very much."
The longer he struggles to concentrate on something like the end of a long printed sentence, the foggier the meaning becomes.
"I don't have um uh," he says jabbing at the page. "aaahretention! I don't have retention."
He spent 48 hours in intensive care. Cadaver parts were used to fix the torn ligaments in his knee from a jump over a chain link fence in the pursuit. His left testicle was surgically removed, damaged from a hard kick. He's planning re-constructive surgery for his rotator cuff, which was torn during the struggle.
The village of Addison put Harroun on "no-pay status" in August 2002, eight months after his scuffle. He wasn't fired, so he can't collect unemployment. He remains insured but says it's a struggle to pay the $159-a-month premium.
Village officials are tight-lipped about the case. Village attorneys and Police Chief Bill Hayden wouldn't comment, and Village Manager Joe Block had only this to say:
"The village is disputing whether Mr. Harroun sustained accidental injury arising out of his employment with the village of Addison as he alleged," he said. "We are also disputing whether his present medical condition of ill being, if any, and current disability, if any, is related to the claimed incident."
Harroun's wife, Karla, takes umbrage at the suggestion his injury claims aren't legitimate.
"No man would have his testicle cut off, knee surgically cut, replacing injured areas with cadaver parts, head trauma issues galore, go into catastrophic debt -- potentially losing his home -- going to food shelters to feed his family and watch his wife and son suffer each day just to pull one over on the village of Addison," she said.
But it is his head that worries his wife most.
"It just seems like time is not his friend," Karla Harroun said. "The head injury is deteriorating as time goes on."
'No cop will act'
Harroun, an Addison cop for seven years, is baffled by his status with the department. His actions initially earned him praise.
He was given a letter of commendation from the Bloomingdale police chief after foiling the burglary. The man he struggled with, Ryan Hanses of Bloomingdale, was convicted on felony charges of residential burglary and aggravated battery to a police officer.
Harroun also received a Distinguished Service Award from the Addison Police and Fire Merit Review Board, although he didn't know that right away.
He said he wasn't given the plaque like the other merit winners. It turned up when another officer found it scratched up in an office drawer and sent it to the family, he said.
The honors, and whether he was intended to know about them, mean little to Harroun now. He worries instead about the foreclosure notices on his home and the bank trying last week to repossess his car.
Harroun views the department's stance as a message to other police that they should put their sense of moral duty aside when they take off their uniforms.
"No cop will act," he said. "They will say, The hell with that. I'll end up like Harroun.'"
Police associations fear that chilling effect, especially in departments that prohibit off-duty action by police officers.
"It's up to the individual right now," said Ed Hoes, executive director of the Illinois Police Association. "A lot of people are afraid of the liability."
The association would like to see departments standardize the rules for off-duty officers -- "if nothing else, to protect the law enforcement agencies and people on the street," he said.
The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police has been pushing for legislation to allow officers to respond off duty anywhere in the state. Any injuries or lawsuits stemming from the officer's response would be the liability of his employer, said Joe Pena, vice president of the association and chief of police in East Dundee.
Clarify the rules
Doug Harroun's lawsuit names the village, Village Manager Block and Personnel Director Donald Pinson. It demands disability payments under the Public Employment Disability Act for injuries he says he sustained stopping the burglar. He also is seeking restitution for medical bills and health insurance premiums he's been forced to pick up on his own.
In court documents, the village says Harroun has not shown he's too injured to fulfill his police duties. It states "an arrest in Bloomingdale is not tantamount to acting in the line of duty as an Addison police officer."
Harroun has filed two other lawsuits, demanding his pension and worker's compensation, both unattainable if Addison declares he wasn't on the job when the injuries happened.
"They are saying this is non-duty related; he was just helping a neighbor," Karla Harroun said. "He was not helping her move. This was a crime."
A copy of the Addison officers' handbook section titled "Policies and Procedures on Making an Off Duty Arrest" was obtained by the Daily Herald. It allows for off-duty arrests except when the officer is personally involved in a dispute over a personal matter, working a second job or making an arrest solely for a minor traffic infraction.
Karla Harroun said she wants the lawsuit to clarify the rules for her family and every other officer who might face a similar debate on whether to act.
"We don't want anyone else to go through this," she said.
She sees her husband's injuries and financial bind as something the family may never overcome.
He has become a dependent rather than the provider in the family.
"He was always so strong and athletic," Karla Harroun said, tears welling up. "He's half the man that I have known. I don't think I'm ever going to get my Doug back."
By the way, I find it interesting that there's no mention of the perp in this article. I assume he's out walking free on the streets again, stalking other people.
Thanks a lot, Bud.
I'd say Addison is big court trouble, with this written policy on the books. Assuming the article acurately sumarizes the policy, of course.
These days, cops are damned if they do, and damned if they don't. . .
His name is mentioned, Ryan Hanses. He is a worthless piece of sh*t that has been arrested many times in Roselle, IL and Bloomingdale, Illinois. He has an obsession with guns too, if this makes you feel any better, and he is currently (as of 6/21/2004) free on parole. You can view this POS's status by visiting:
Type in for the last name checkbox "Hanses" to view his picture and whether he is free or not. This link may work as well for his mugshot:
His father was a piece of work too, in and out of jail all the time. Last I've heard, he was fresh out of prison and at the bloomingdale public library literally working on correspondence to inmate "friends" he made while in prison. I am very surprised "Shorty" (his street name)hasn't violated his parole as of this writing.
You can view his criminal history at the DuPage county courthouse in Wheaton, IL free of charge. This kid is such a worthless little sh*t it makes me mad that I've devoted this much time to his cause writing this all down for this board. It would be a shame if someone were to kick his scrawny little 5' 7" @#&! Drinks would be on me to hear about him being beatdown :)