A Chicago Heights police lieutenant was suspended for 20 days in October after he allegedly assaulted a man at a Lynwood bar while off duty, police disciplinary records show.
Keith Applequist, 47, was not criminally charged in the incident, which occurred at Lencioni’s Pub around 12:45 a.m. on Sept. 17 because the victim declined to press charges, according to a police report. Lynwood police prepared a complaint for battery to be executed at the victim’s request, but he refused to sign it, telling police he preferred “alternative methods of reconciliation,” the report states.
To date, the victim has not filed suit against Applequist, a 17-year police veteran, but he did tell cops in September that “possible civil actions are in the future,” according to a police report.
Surveillance footage of the incident, which the Daily Southtown obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, shows Applequist and a woman approach another couple, who are seated at the bar.
Applequist, a drink in one hand, places his other hand on the other man’s upper back multiple times as the couples appear to chat calmly for about four minutes.
The mood then appears to shift abruptly and Applequist begins pointing at the other woman.
Applequist and the woman then appear to get into an argument that becomes more and more animated until the 230-pound police lieutenant shoves the man into the woman, sending both crashing to the floor. Applequist can be seen in the video standing over the couple and cocking his right arm multiple times in a punching motion, but it’s unclear from the video whether he strikes the other man.
From the floor, the other man lunges at Applequist’s lower body and the cop falls on top of him. The two wrestle on the floor briefly until the other man manages to drive Applequist backward into a bar stool as about a dozen patrons and bar employees crowd around the men, who are now out of the camera’s view.
Both men told police that the other had been the aggressor, but a bartender who had been serving the couples and witnessed the incident said Applequist had started it by pushing the victim and possibly taking a swing at him, according to the police report.
The other man, a 50-year-old from Dyer, Indiana, told police that Applequist appeared to have been set off inside the bar after the woman declined the shot he bought her, according to the police report.
He said Applequist called her a derogatory name and that when he told the lieutenant to stop, Applequist “shoved him and might have punched him,” according to the police report. The man, whose shirt was ripped in the brawl, reported injuries to his right knee, right elbow, neck and back, according to the report.
After news of the incident got back to the Chicago Heights Police Department, Applequist entered into a disciplinary agreement with his department on Oct. 12 in which he accepted a 20-day suspension without pay and waived all rights to appeal.
The disciplinary document, which reiterates the claims made in the Lynwood police report, states that Applequist had committed multiple violations of the department’s policy and procedures, including its guidelines on obedience to laws and rules of conduct, adherence to department rules, and conduct and behavior.
In addition to his suspension, which began Oct. 18, Applequist also agreed to seek counseling through the Employee Assistance Program.
While suspended from the department, Applequist continued to work his secondary job as a school security guard for Bloom Township High School District 206, district timesheets show.
Applequist did not respond to a request for comment on the incident and his subsequent suspension from the department.
Chicago Heights Police Chief Thomas Rogers provided a brief statement that reads, “In accordance with Chicago Heights Police Department personnel and policy, we take all alleged violations of professional standards seriously and we respond appropriately, as we did in this case.”
The lieutenant, who made nearly $83,000 last year, according to public payroll records, has also been named — along with other Chicago Heights officers — in two federal civil rights lawsuits alleging excessive force that the department has settled within the past year. The amounts of those settlements were not immediately available.