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Timeline of Elonte McDowell arrest

A closer look at the August arrest of Aurora man as lawyers comment on next steps

Interim DeKalb Police Chief John Petragallo released video of the incident from three dashboard cameras Sept. 1.
Interim DeKalb Police Chief John Petragallo released video of the incident from three dashboard cameras Sept. 1.

DeKALB – This is a timeline of events before and after the Aug. 24 arrest of Aurora man Elonte Y. McDowell, when DeKalb police arrested McDowell during what they said was a drug investigation. A cellphone video released Aug. 25 showed McDowell held in a headlock by a DeKalb police officer. The video went viral on social media and gained national media attention.

Released dashboard camera footage was also used to compile this timeline.

DeKalb police received a tip that McDowell would be driving to DeKalb “with a load of drugs” after McDowell was seen advertising marijuana on Snapchat, according to DeKalb County court records, and learned he would be driving a tan Chevy Malibu.


10:58 a.m.: DeKalb police begin following McDowell and girlfriend Alyssa Retuerto in the Malibu north on South Glidden Avenue.

10:59 a.m.: Police pull McDowell over into the parking lot of Lincoln Towers, 1100 Lincoln Highway. A DeKalb police officer exits the cruiser, walks to the Malibu and begins to talk with McDowell. McDowell repeatedly asks why he is being detained, and officers do not give an answer, but say McDowell can be arrested if he does not comply.

11:03 a.m.: McDowell exits the Malibu after police ask him to.

11:07 a.m.: A DeKalb County Sheriff’s K-9 unit walks around the car. Later, a DeKalb police officer searches inside the car. According to court documents, police said they found a bag containing between 1 and
3.5 ounces of marijuana in the car, which McDowell later admitted was his, court records show.

11:08 a.m.: McDowell again asks why he’s being detained and has his hands raised. Two police officers grab his arms and wrists before McDowell appears to dart away from them.

McDowell is restrained by three officers, wiht one of them on top of McDowell wrapping his arm around McDowell’s neck. McDowell shouts “I can’t breathe.” McDowell is tased by a DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputy as the commotion ensues, and he appears to lose consciousness.

11:10 a.m.: McDowell is moved onto his back.

11:14 a.m.: Appearing to have regained consciousness, McDowell is led away in handcuffs.


Retuerto posts cellphone camera video of the arrest on her Facebook page.

McDowell has been charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, criminal trespass to property and resisting a police officer.

If convicted of the most serious charge of unlawful possession with intent to deliver, McDowell could face up to five years in prison.

McDowell is released on his signature from the DeKalb County Jail.


The arrest begins to get local and statewide media attention. Petragallo issues a statement and said he has reassigned the officer to administrative duties pending an investigation. Petragallo says the Illinois State Police also will conduct an investigation.

Petragallo releases another statement along with video from three dashboard cameras from DeKalb police cruisers and the DeKalb County Sheriff.


Chicago-based attorney Antonio Jeffrey, who is representing McDowell in a civil case, said he anticipates filing a civil rights lawsuit against the city of DeKalb after investigations are complete.

“I think the videos accurately depict what my client has been saying all along which is that, no, he didn’t attempt to flee,” Jeffrey said. “He was cooperating the entire time.”

Jeffrey said McDowell wants to see the officers involved “punished in some type of way.”


McDowell’s other lawyer, Sycamore-based Brian Erwin, said he and McDowell are set to appear before Judge Phillip Montgomery at 9 a.m. Monday at the DeKalb County courthouse.

“Based on our review we’re going to file a motion to quash the arrests,” Erwin said. “We’re pretty adamant that this has no basis for the stop.

“He was seized unlawfully and was continuously detained unlawfully.”

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