Troubled Chicago Area RE-ELECTS Man Arrested on Drug & Murder Charges
Robert “Coop” Battle, councilman from the 3rd District, is currently unable to attend meetings or respond to the needs of his constituents while he remains in custody in the Lake County Jail facing charges for possession of drugs with intent to sell and murder.
East Chicago, Indiana, already facing serious issues with high unemployment, rampant drug use, high drop-out rates, and gang violence, has now lost its voice in the city council.
The city is midway between the troubled south-side of Chicago and the equally grim Gary, Indiana.
Because no one filed to challenge the sitting councilman on the ballot, Battle ran unopposed and was easily returned to office in the November 3 election.
Even if Battle is released after a bond hearing on November 17, he will face drug charges in federal court stemming from an arrest earlier in the year.
Police found 73 pounds of marijuana and over $100,000 in cash when the councilman’s vehicle was searched during a routine traffic stop in Porter County, Indiana.
Lake County Sheriff John Bunicich, who is also the chairman of the county’s Democratic party, is embarrassed and told local reporters, “The right thing to do at this time would be to resign, step aside so the East Chicago citizens in the third district can be represented properly.”
Battle’s attorney, however, claims that the councilman is “insulted” by the suggestion that he is unable to represent his district and rejects demands that he resign.
John Cantrell, the attorney representing Battle on the current charges, evoked his client’s constitutional rights, saying, “My client is presumed innocent until he is proven guilty. If he is acquitted, he’ll keep his job.”
Sheriff Bunicich said the councilman, who spent election day in jail, did not request an absentee ballot, evidently not considering it important enough to even vote for himself.