Poulos notes that he saw "Lunardon pulling Bennett's hair while they were on the ground," and that "Lunardon had a clump of Bennett's hair gripped in her hand after I handcuffed her."
Bennett, who's still on the NIU force and had been with NIU Public Safety six years in September, was off duty at Walmart, 2300 Sycamore Road, about 5:45 p.m. when she responded to a fight near the self-checkout register between Lunardon and another woman.
According to police reports, Lunardon had hit the other woman in the head, telling her "that's what you get ... for following me around the store."
Lunardon said the woman is a longtime antagonist who for years has sent her vitriol-fueled messages and repeatedly called one of her bi-racial children a slur. She said the woman called 911 when Lunardon confronted her.
Bennett said in her statement she was at Walmart heard a woman scream "Help!" inside the store and saw a woman lying on the ground, screaming for help, with pieces of hair lying near her. Bennett said Lunardon and her grandmother were yelling at the woman. That's when Bennett said she stepped in.
Lunardon said she didn't believe Bennett was really a police officer. She thought she was Walmart security. Bennett said Lunardon told her she wasn't "the real police."
"Hey, Ive showed you my badge," Bennett said she told Lunardon. "Let's just wait until some uniformed police officers get here."
According to state law, any Illinois police officer may make an arrest outside their jurisdiction, but only while on duty. Citizens in general have broad power to detain someone, though, Sycamore lawyer Riley Oncken said.
"For instance, private security from Walmart has the authority to detain somebody if they believe they're shoplifting," Oncken said. "If somebody witnesses a crime occurring, they can detain somebody until the police arrive. If somebody breaks into my house and I hold them at gunpoint at my house until police arrive, I'm within my rights."