The three firefighters accused of beating up two men outside a bar in Normal Heights two months ago plead not guilty in court Friday afternoon.
The firefighters – Capt. Vadid Cisneros, Greg Econie and Andrew Brennan – were not on the job or in uniform during the alleged fight, which officials said occurred on Feb. 26 around 2 a.m., as the men were leaving a bar on the 3400 block of Adams Avenue.
During the arraignment, the prosecution claimed that Cisneros, Econie and Brennan got into a physical altercation with a man named Louis when one of the firefighters made a comment about Louis’ sexual orientation.
The fight escalated to include Louis’s brother, Willy, according to the prosecution.
Allegedly, all of the men involved, on both sides, were injured to some degree. The supposed victims were treated for cuts and minor injuries. The firefighters claim they too were hurt, including being bitten.
Lawyers on the firefighters’ side argue that the men were just defending themselves. They also claim no comments were made about anyone’s sexual orientation that night.
Still, Cisneros, Econie and Brennan are facing felony assault, battery and robbery charges that could end their careers.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon said he doesn’t think the fact that the men are firefighters is all that relevant to the case, especially since the men were not in uniform at the time of the fight.
“Well, I think it’s safe to say the public should look up to the occupation of firefighters and the job that firefighters do, but in the investigation thus far, I can tell you they weren’t on duty that night and they certainly weren’t dressed in firefighter uniforms. So let’s not confuse the occupation that somebody has with the character and the way they’re behaving on a certain day,” said Runyon.
Despite the case, the firefighters are all still on the job.
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