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Clinton police officer's actions questioned


CLINTON - Clinton police are investigating whether a child's beating might have been avoided with better police work, but the attorney for the officer whose actions are under investigation says his client is a victim of unfortunate circumstances.

Sgt. Fred Zacher has been asked to appear for an "administrative review" Monday before Clinton Police Chief Michael Reidy.

The summons alleges Zacher did not thoroughly check out a request to investigate the well-being of Cameron Van Hyning. It questions whether the child's beating on June 23 might have been avoided if Zacher had alerted other officers to his previous unsuccessful attempts to check on the boy.

The Macon County Sheriff's Department requested the check on June 16 after a mall clerk reported seeing bruises on the 15-month-old. No criminal complaint had been filed at the time.

Prosecutors contend Michael A. Van Hyning punched the child in the chest with his fist on June 23, grabbed him by the arms and repeatedly shook him. The boy was treated at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Peoria, and discharged earlier this month.

Michael Van Hyning, 24, faces three counts of aggravated battery to a child and is scheduled for an Aug. 1 preliminary hearing. In addition to the June 23 incident, he is accused of repeatedly punching the child in the face on June 4 and slamming him against the bottom and sides of a bathtub on June 11.

Zacher's lawyer, Sean Smoot of the Policemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said Zacher isn't at fault.

"Based on the facts that I'm aware of, I don't think he (Zacher) has any culpability whatsoever," Smoot said.

Zacher remains on duty. The summons alleges Zacher failed to search thoroughly for evidence of domestic violence and child abuse in the Van Hyning case, but Smoot said Zacher tried three times to check the Van Hyning residence and found no one home.

Copies of the summons were obtained by The Pantagraph. Reidy declined comment, saying the matter involves personnel.

On Thursday, Macon County Sheriff Roger Walker said his department followed proper procedure in contacting Clinton police, but he declined further comment.

2001 Jul 20