LYNWOOD | An attorney representing a village police officer who faces disciplinary measures because his squad car was stolen said Friday his client was not derelict in his professional duties.

Christopher Cooper is an attorney provided by the Fraternal Order of Police to represent Lynwood police Officer Joe Marigliano, who is on leave without pay for a Dec. 11 incident that resulted in someone driving off with the squad car assigned to him that day.

Cooper admits his client left the keys to the car in the ignition when he got out. But he said Marigliano got out of his car because he saw another police officer in need of assistance in trying to chase down a criminal suspect in a stabbing incident.

Police at the time of the incident said that a foot chase resulted in the suspect getting into the Lynwood squad car and driving it briefly. A police chase ended on U.S. 30 when the squad car sustained “significant damage” after being driven over the median, police said.

“If the officer leaves his keys in the car so he can go get himself some coffee, that’s dereliction,” Cooper said, while adding of Marigliano’s conduct, “he acted properly considering the circumstances.”

Thus far, village officials have disagreed. The village’s Police and Fire Commission held a hearing last week on the matter, and it is scheduled to conduct a full trial April 8 and 9.

Marigliano, in an email message sent to The Times, said he believes these proceedings are actually about “retaliation for the officer (Marigliano) being the department’s FOP union steward,” rather than anything that occurred in December.

Police Chief Michael Mears and members of the police commission were not available to discuss the situation, while Village President Eugene Williams said, “not in any way,” when asked for comment.

Marigliano could lose his job if the commission rules against him in April, although Cooper said he plans to argue that police officers often leave keys to their vehicles in the car as a practical matter.

Cooper said he thinks Marigliano was merely doing his job because police at the time were searching for a suspect who had cut a woman with a knife and was a threat to the public.

“He saw another police officer who needed help, and he got out of his car to help, just like police officers do all over,” Cooper said.

Jeanette is a journalist with The Times Media Co. who has worked as both a reporter and editor. She has a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.