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Officer cleared in shooting death of man with hatchet

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Suzanne Baker

Naperville Sun, Ill.

Aug. 16—The 22-year veteran Naperville police officer who shot a Naperville man who came at him with a hatchet June 3 was justified in his actions, DuPage State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said.

“Every case involving the use of deadly force by a police officer, whether on or off duty, must be carefully and thoroughly investigated. Such scrutiny is required to ensure the protection of the civil rights of those involved and to maintain the public’s confidence in law enforcement,” Berlin said in a statement on his findings.

An investigation was conducted by the Metropolitan Emergency Response and Investigative Team’s public integrity unit into the shooting of 28-year-old Edward Samaan by Officer Frank Tonkovich, which occurred on Bond Street near McDowell Road in Naperville.

“It is my determination that the officer’s actions were justified and no criminal charges will be filed against the officer,” Berlin said.

June 3 was not Samaan’s first brush with law enforcement.

Will County sheriff’s deputies were called to the area of Schillinger and Anderman drives in Wheatland Township about 10 a.m. Dec. 31, 2021, for a report of a man with a baseball bat, according to police records.

Samaan, accused of striking his father and a deputy with the bat, was charged with aggravated battery to a peace officer, aggravated battery to a victim over 60, and several counts of domestic battery.

That case had not come to trial before the June incident.

Two years prior, also on Dec. 31, deputies were called to Mark Drive in Wheatland Township for an incident in which a neighbor filed a complaint against Samaan, who was charged with assault.

Samaan pleaded guilty in April 2021, and as part of his sentencing was required to seek mental health treatment.

Nine days before he was shot, Samaan appeared in Will County court May 25 because he failed to provide proof of continued mental health treatment.

In June 3 incident, Tonkovich had pulled over a black Honda Civic about 11 a.m. after the driver allegedly disobeyed a stop sign at eastbound McDowell Road and Bond Street, police reports said.

While the officer was conducting the traffic stop, a silver Ford Fusion driven by Samaan stopped in the middle of the road within just a few feet of Tonkovich.

A video from Tonkovich’s body camera released by the Naperville Police Department shows the car stop and Samaan exit with a hatchet in his right hand, which is cited in Berlin’s report. As he runs toward Tonkovich, the officer draws his firearm and fires six shots at Samaan, who was struck five times and died from his injuries.

“It is important to remember that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the appropriate amount of force necessary to bring a tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving situation under control,” Berlin said.

In Tonkovich’s report, the officer wrote he “fear(ed) for my life” and the “life of (the driver of the Honda Civic),” and “I was forced to draw my firearm and use deadly force to stop Samaan from killing me or (the Honda Civic driver).”

Tonkovich’s action “was not only reasonable, but necessary in order to prevent great bodily harm or death to himself or the motorist he had stopped,” Berlin said.

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(c)2022 the Naperville Sun (Naperville, Ill.)

Visit the Naperville Sun (Naperville, Ill.) at www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun

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