WE ARE ILLINOIS
Racial slur led to fight with Democratic Chairman, student says
By Hannah Hess - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The politically connected head of Gov. Pat Quinn's Southern Illinois security detail used a racial slur against a black college student in a Carlinville bar, starting a fight that preceded the officer's resignation, the student says.
Blackburn College senior Bryan Reynolds, 22, said in an interview that the epithet from state Trooper Ken Snider "started the ... well, I wouldn't call it a ‘brawl,' but I guess the fight."
Reynolds' account of the St. Patrick's Day fight in the small community south of Springfield raises new issues around Snider's sudden resignation the next day. Snider, one of Quinn's top security people and a well-connected member of the region's Democratic power structure, resigned shortly after what officials have described as a barroom "altercation."
The following day, Snider also resigned without explanation as head of the Macoupin County Democratic Party and president of the Carlinville School Board.
Quinn's office has declined to comment on the matter because Snider left the security staff of the governor, also a Democrat.
Reynold's account of the fight is the first direct allegation of a racial component in the incident. Snider didn't respond to repeated calls to his home and cellphone, or to a message left at a business operated by his wife.
Carlinville Police Chief David Haley confirmed that Snider called his home phone and cellphone during the early morning hours of March 18 after a fight. Haley dispatched police to the Anchor Inn; no arrests were made.
"Mr. Snider was involved in an altercation," Haley said.
Illinois State Police are still investigating "to see if there was any criminal conduct or criminal activity that occurred that night," spokesman Scott Compton said.
Compton confirmed that a state trooper resigned in connection with the altercation, but he declined to provide further information, pending the ongoing investigation.
Reynolds said he has been asked to tell his account to both local and state authorities investigating the case.
Haley confirmed that Reynolds came to the police department March 18 to discuss the incident. Haley said he advised Reynolds that the investigation had been turned over to the State Police.
Reynolds, a former football player, told the Post-Dispatch that he stood near Snider inside the Anchor Inn. After two bumps to his shoulder, Reynolds turned to the state trooper and "asked what his problem was, because that's the second time he bumped into me," Reynolds said.
Snider grabbed the student's shoulder and called him "the N-word" and other derogatory names, Reynolds said.
When Reynolds attempted to remove Snider's hand from his shoulder, the trooper responded with a shove, Reynolds said, which provoked him to throw a punch.
Reynolds said he was asked to leave the bar before police arrived, an allegation that Anchor Inn owners and employees declined to discuss.
"I was defending myself," Reynolds said.
Snider's responsibilities with Quinn's Executive Protection Unit included the supervision of officers, scheduling, routes and movements while Quinn traveled in the southern parts of the state. He earned more than $131,000 annually.
SOURCE: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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