Police criticized for actions

By Jami Peterson

A fight involving an NIU wrestling coach, who was arrested on the scene for unlawful use of a weapon, could lead to charges against a group of males that allegedly attacked the coach.

Asst. Wrestling Coach Philip D. Rembert, 30, 820 Kimberly #111, was arrested early morning Sunday, Aug. 22, after DeKalb Police found a loaded .22 caliber rifle registered in his name lying under a vehicle in a parking lot at 810 Kimberly Ave. The police were looking into a report of a fight taking place at the location.

Rembert’s arrest has led to criticism of the DeKalb Police by witnesses on the scene who claim the group of about six white males that allegedly attacked the coach and his nephew also should have been taken to the police station and charged with battery. Questions also have arisen as to how the gun ended up under the car and whether Rembert actually had the gun in his possession.

According to Rembert’s attorney Scott Erwin, Rembert believes the group of males that allegedly attacked him should be charged and is waiting for the police investigation to be completed in order to file a formal legal complaint.

“The police already know what Rembert’s decision is. There is no question he wants to file a complaint,” Erwin said. “They’re (DeKalb Police) investigating to see if there is a chargeable offense.”

DeKalb Police Chief Donald Berke said an investigation into the incident is continuing, but no other charges have been placed in the case.

NIU student Lonnie Morris, a friend of Rembert’s, witnessed the incident and said he believed the police acted “unprofessionally” by not thoroughly interviewing the other participants in the fight. “I feel they should have arrested the guys that jumped him (Rembert).”

Morris said he believes the fight was a racial incident. Rembert and his nephew, both black males, were attacked by a group of white males, although Morris said he did not hear any racial slurs during the fight.

Berke said the fight was in no way a racial incident. “This is not a race thing.”

NIU student April McLaughlin said she also didn’t believe the fight was a racial incident. “I never once heard any racial remarks.”

McLaughlin did say the police were “unfair” upon immediately arresting Rembert because other people at the scene were “only briefly questioned, but never brought to the police station.”

McLaughlin said she had been talking with Rembert and his nephew when a couple of males walked up screaming obscenities about a fight they just had gotten into at The Jungle, 1027 W. Hillcrest Drive.

When Rembert asked the males to hold it down because he was trying to talk to McLaughlin and another female, the males began cursing at him and one male eventually punched Rembert, she said.

McLaughlin went on to say three males then jumped on Rembert and three males jumped on his nephew. McLaughlin said she believes the nephew freed himself and retrieved the gun from Rembert’s nearby apartment. Shortly after, the police arrived, broke up the fight and found the rifle under the car, she said, adding she did not see the gun until the police retrieved it.

She claims the rifle was “never brought out in a threatening manner” and she never saw Rembert with the gun.

Morris would not comment on the way in which the gun became involved in the incident.

Rembert’s court date has been set for Sept. 24.