UI police officer fired, charged with official misconduct


Brigida Dockus

A University police car patrols the streets on Sept. 29, 2020. An off-duty UI police officer has been charged with official misconduct on Monday in trying to obtain a personal advantage in pretending to be an undercover cop.

By Willie Cui, News Editor

An off-duty University police officer was charged with official misconduct on Monday after he allegedly stopped a woman from entering a vehicle on Sunday and displayed his badge and gun, claiming to be an undercover police officer.

Kiel Cotter, a 28-year-old who lives in Champaign, was charged with one count of official misconduct on Monday for performing “an act in excess of his lawful authority” with the intent to obtain a personal advantage while acting in his official capacity, according to the charging document.

The offense is considered a class 3 felony and carries a potential prison sentence of five to 10 years. 

Cotter was arrested by the Champaign Police Department at around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday and was held in custody at the county jail.

He was placed on administrative leave Sunday afternoon, and his employment was subsequently terminated on Monday, according to Pat Wade, communications director for the University Police Department.

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    “Pretty much as soon as we found out about the actions, he was placed on administrative leave immediately, and then he was later arrested on Sunday afternoon,” Wade said.

    At the time of the incident, Cotter “was on probation status as an employee,” having joined UIPD in January, according to Wade.

    “He was still a police officer,” Wade said. “He just wasn’t out on his own yet. He was still being trained by other police officers before he would be out patrolling on his own.”

    According to a statement by Joe Lamberson, interim assistant to the Champaign police chief, Champaign police officers responded to a reported theft on Sunday, and the victim said she was aggressively approached early Sunday morning by Cotter who claimed to be an undercover police officer.

    “During his interaction with the victim, Cotter is accused of stopping her from getting into a friend’s vehicle before presenting a badge and gun as evidence of his status as a police officer,” Lamberson said in an email statement.

    Lamberson also said that Cotter “removed the weapon from his waist, pointed it at the ground for a time before he returned it to his waist” and asked the victim if she was willing to go eat with him. The victim then followed Cotter to a restaurant on the 400 block of East Green Street.

    While walking back to their original location, Cotter took possession of the victim’s wallet and did not return it when they parted ways, according to the statement. 

    At his arraignment on Monday, Cotter was released on his own recognizance but was prohibited from possessing firearms and was ordered to turn over any firearms he owned to the Champaign County Sheriff‘s Office within 48 hours of his release. He was also ordered to have no contact with University property. 

    Cotter’s UIPD-issued firearm “would have been collected at the time that he was placed on administrative leave” on Sunday, according to Wade.

    “Kiel Cotter’s employment was terminated as quickly as practicable after we were made aware of his actions,” Wade said in a later email. “The University of Illinois Police Department does not tolerate behavior inconsistent with its core values of justice, respect, integrity, trust and inclusion. Employees who betray the public trust and violate our code of conduct will be held accountable.”


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