Gurnee Police Department Officer Involved Shooting – May 23, 2018

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Lake County State's Attorneys Office



July 20, 2018

For Immediate Release
Contact: Cynthia Vargas

                                                                                   (847) 377-3188

(847) 309-6065 Cell


Gurnee Police Department Officer Involved Shooting – May 23, 2018

(Lake County, IL July 20, 2018) On May 23, 2018, Gurnee Police were involved in a shooting on Route 41 in Gurnee, Illinois. 

After the incident occurred, the Gurnee Police Department requested that the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force assume the investigation.  The Task Force deployed a team of investigators to undertake that responsibility.

The Task Force then performed the following tasks:

  • Interviewed all witnesses to determine what occurred prior to, during, and after the shooting
  • Photographed the scene
  • Recovered all physical evidence
  • Recovered all body cam video evidence
  • Recovered all police transmissions
  • Reviewed all squad in-car audio/video recording systems
  • Reviewed the autopsy report and findings

The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office has reviewed all this information and the applicable laws regarding a police officer’s use of deadly force.  This informational release will outline the evidence in this case so that our Lake County Community is fully apprised of what occurred on the afternoon of May 23, 2018. 

Officer Benjamin Bozer Statement

Officer Bozer has been with the Gurnee Police Department for 9 years.

On May 23, 2018, Officer Bozer worked the 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. shift.  He was wearing a Gurnee Patrol Uniform with markings indicating “Police” and displaying a Gurnee Police Department shield.  Gurnee Police patches were sewn on each of his shirt sleeves.  Officer Bozer utilized a duty rig and outer carrier that included a body worn carrier, flashlight, cuffs, and handgun. 

Officer Bozer was driving a Gurnee Police patrol vehicle equipped with emergency lights, recording system, a rifle, and “Gurnee Police Department” graphics.

He received a radio dispatch at 1:22 p.m. regarding a suspicious car (2010 Toyota Prius) at the intersection of Harper Avenue and Gould Avenue in a heavily residential area.  At 1:26 p.m., Officer Bozer arrived at that location.  Officer Bozer activated his emergency lights, squad video, and his body worn camera.  As he approached the car, Officer Bozer noted that the car was running.  A white/male (later identified as Jordan Huff) was passed out in the front passenger seat.  His breathing was laborious.  Officer Bozer radioed dispatch and requested a notification of rescue that this passenger was a suspected overdose. 

Officer Bozer then approached the driver’s side of the car.  A white female (later identified as Makell Meyerin) was unconscious and positioned in the driver’s seat.  Officer Bozer knocked on the driver’s door.  Ms. Meyerin finally awoke.  She spoke “thick tongued.”

Officer Bozer saw that the car was in “drive.”  Ms. Meyerin was asked to put the car in “park.”  Ms. Meyerin mumbled something that was unintelligible and then grabbed an item wrapped in a plastic shopping bag.  She put that item in the back seat.

Officer Bozer again asked Ms. Meyerin to put the car in “park.”  Ms Meyerin grabbed the steering wheel and sped away from the officer.  She turned right on Gould and drove towards a dead end.  Two additional patrol units had now arrived at the scene.  As police units turned onto Gould to follow Ms. Meyerin, she had now turned her car around and was driving directly towards the police.  Ms. Meyerin drove off the roadway and onto a residential lawn and drove around the squad cars. 

Officer Bozer radioed the car description and license plate number.  Another Gurnee officer radioed that Ms. Meyerin’s Prius struck a Gurnee ambulance while fleeing the area.

Officer Bozer maintained a view of the Prius due to a concern for the male occupant in the vehicle.  The Prius was seen maneuvering around cars in a construction zone.  The car then proceeded into a residential area.  Eventually, the Prius crashed in a wooded area at Chittenden Park (a Gurnee recreational area).  Officer Funke radioed that “the female jumped out of the car and is armed with an AK.”  Officer Bozer proceeded to the area to set up a perimeter.  Officer Bozer grabbed a patrol rifle, ran on foot to Route 41, and took location at a guard rail. 

Officer Bozer observed Ms. Meyerin armed with a rifle.  She would walk around the highway and transition the rifle barrel from under her chin to carrying it with the stock under her armpit with the barrel parallel to the ground.  Traffic on Route 41 was still present.  At one point, an SUV stopped in its lane because Ms. Meyerin was standing in his lane of traffic.  The SUV was able to maneuver around Meyerin and flee the area.

Officer Bozer heard the sound of a rifle being “racked” (chambering of a round).  Officer Bozer also heard radio traffic from Sgt. Ward that Meyerin had her finger on the trigger of her rifle.  Officer Bozer also heard radio traffic that Meyerin had been seen “downing pills.”  Officer Bozer moved south on Route 41 along the barrier.  Gurnee Police Officer Lindahl was accompanying Officer Bozer. 

Ms. Meyerin began to walk towards Officer Bozer and Lindahl.  Meyerin’s rifle was levelled in their direction.  Officer Lindahl yelled for her to drop the weapon and not come any closer.  She refused to comply.  Officer Bozer also ordered Meyerin to drop her weapon.  She did not.  Fearing that their lives were in danger, Officer Bozer took aim with his rifle as Meyerin was pointing her rifle at them.  Meyerin then quickly spun around, walked towards Sgt. Ward and the officers accompanying him.  Meyerin was pointing the rifle in their direction.  Officer Bozer now believed that the lives of Sgt. Ward and the other officers were at imminent risk. 

Officer Bozer heard a gun shot and saw that Meyerin was still standing.  Officer Bozer thought that Meyerin may have fired that shot at the other officers.  Officer Bozer fired his rifle twice at Ms. Meyerin.  She fell to the ground. Officers then removed Meyerin’s rifle from her presence and began to render aid.

Ms. Meyerin’s rifle was secured and taken as evidence. 

Additionally, a “CVS” pill bottle was found on the ground.  By way of reference, Lydia Huff is a relation of Ms. Meyerin’s male companion. 

Ms. Meyerin was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center.  She was pronounced deceased at 2:33 p.m. 

Detective Sgt. Jon Ward Statement

Sgt. Ward is a 24-year veteran with the Gurnee Police Department.

On May 23, 2018, Sgt. Ward worked the 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. shift.  He was dressed in a tan detective shirt with navy blue plants.  The shirt was embroidered with a law enforcement badge and the Sergeant’s name.  He was wearing a dress belt with a body cam, a police shield/badge, and a holster with his duty weapon.  Sgt. Ward was driving a department-owned squad car.  The car was equipped with emergency lighting. 

While on duty and in his squad, Sgt. Ward monitored police radio traffic.  He heard that a suspicious car was identified in a residential neighborhood at Gould Avenue.  The car, a 2010 Toyota Prius, was not moving.  It was occupied by a male and female who, apparently, were both passed out.  Officer Bozer reported that the situation was a suspected drug overdose.

A later radio transmission indicated that the female driver (later identified as Makell Meyerin, 31) had awoken and fled in the car from Officer Bozer.  The unconscious passenger remained in the car. 

A Gurnee Commander ordered all personnel to terminate any pursuit of that car. 

A short time later, a radio transmission stated that the same car was now driving across the grass at Chittenden Park.  Sgt. Ward proceeded to that park.  He met with Officer’s Funke and Tazzioli who had already arrived on location.

The Prius had crashed into some weeds at the park.  Upon checking the car, Makell Meyerin had fled the car.  The unconscious male remained in the car.  He appeared blue in color with irregular breathing and a faint pulse.  Rescue was called. 

A resident advised that the female driver had gone eastward towards Route 41.  As Sgt. Ward tended to the male in the car, his two fellow officers began looking for Ms. Meyerin on foot.  Sgt. Ward heard Officer Tazzioli scream “she’s got a rifle!”  Sgt. Ward ran to the area where the officers had gone.  Each of the officers were dressed in government-issue police attire. 

Sgt. Ward saw Ms. Meyerin on the ground next to a car.  She was crawling, tactical-style, on the ground while holding the rifle.  Sgt. Ward made loud and clear demands to drop the rifle.  Ms. Meyerin responded to Sgt. Ward but her words were unintelligible.  Ms. Meyerin then stood up.  She held the rifle, initially, with her hands on the stock and barrel.

Periodically, Ms. Meyerin would hold the barrel of the rifle up to her chin.  Occasionally, she would pace back and forth.  Ms. Meyerin was in the area of Route 41.  She was standing near moving traffic that bordered a Gurnee residential neighborhood.  Additional police officers were responding to the scene as well.  Ms. Meyerin then moved onto the shoulder of Route 41 with cars passing very close to her.

In an attempt to calm the situation and prevent any potential for violence, Sgt. Ward reassured Ms. Meyerin that her companion was “fine,” that he was alive and was receiving help.  Sgt. Ward, on at least ten occasions, asked Ms. Meyerin to “please drop the rifle.”  Sgt. Ward would refer to Ms. Meyerin by the terms “honey” and “sweetie” to further quell her anxiety and establish a rapport with her.

Ms. Meyerin walked into traffic.  Sgt. Ward made a request for all Route 41 traffic to be stopped and re-routed.  Before traffic could be stopped, Ms. Meyerin approached a vehicle while still holding the rifle.  The vehicle quickly went into reverse and sped away from the armed Ms. Meyerin.

At one point, Ms. Meyerin was seen with a package (similar to a baggie) in her hand.  She was seen consuming the contents of that package. 

Ms. Meyerin then checked the rifle that she was holding.  She turned the rifle and racked the slide back as one would do to chamber a round.  Ms. Meyerin then put her finger on the trigger of the rifle.  Sgt. Ward notified the other officer that Meyerin now had her finger on the trigger.  Sgt. Ward repeated that over the radio two times.  Numerous officers told Ms. Meyerin to “drop the rifle” multiple times.  Ms. Meyerin did not drop the rifle.  Instead, she began moving toward Officer Funke and Sgt. Ward.  She then went toward a concrete wall and her rifle was now parallel to the ground.  Ms. Meyerin then pointed the rifle at Officer Funke and Sgt. Ward.

Sgt. Ward again ordered Ms. Meyerin to put the gun down and to stop advancing.  She ignored their requests.  Ms. Meyerin then stepped forward with the rifle in a firing position with one hand on the stock and her finger on the trigger.  Sgt. Ward fired his weapon three times at Meyerin’s chest.  Sgt. Ward also heard someone else firing a weapon.  Ms. Meyerin dropped to the ground and the rifle was no longer pointing at any person. 

Ms. Meyerin was moving on the ground.  Officer Funke removed the rifle away from Meyerin.  Medical personnel were notified, and aid was rendered to Ms. Meyerin.

Makell Meyerin’s Weapon

Ms. Meyerin was brandishing a Beretta Cx4 Storm tactical carbine rifle.  There was one live shell in the chamber.  The magazine contained 5 additional live rounds.  The selector switch on the rifle had been moved into the “fire” position.

Jordan Huff Statement

Mr Huff stated that on May 23, 2018, he was with Makell Meyerin and another female in Antioch.  He stated that Ms.  Meyerin “hustled” a male for money.  The three of them drove away in a Volkswagen. Moments later, the police attempted to stop their car.  Mr. Huff, the driver, would not stop and was able to successfully elude the police.  Upon arriving at Mr. Huff’s Antioch residence, the three individuals fled on foot.

According to Mr. Huff, he later met with Ms. Meyerin and went to Mr. Huff’s mother’s home.  Huff and Meyerin took Huff’s uncle’s Prius.

Mr. Huff and Ms Meyerin drove to a Waukegan Motel.  Mr. Huff and Ms. Meyerin began to ingest a number of different drugs.  After taking those drugs, Mr. Huff stated he had no recollection of what occurred after that point.

Mr. Huff did say that he and Ms. Meyerin had been doing drugs for the last few days.  He added that Ms. Meyerin had recently been suicidal. 

Mr. Huff said that he only saw the long gun after he and Ms. Meyerin had gotten into the Prius.


Linda Meyerin Statement

Linda Meyerin is the mother of Makell Meyerin.  Linda stated that she spoke to her daughter Makell by phone on the morning of May 23, 2018.  Makell called Linda and stated that “somebody set up Jordan.  I’ve gotta help him.  I’m gone.  I mean I’m dead.” Makell added that Linda would “see her on the news.”

According to Linda, Makell also asked whether the police had shown up looking for her.  Makell did not tell Linda any other information.  Makell then hung up the phone.

Linda then gave a little more background about Makell.  Makell had been a heroin addict since she was 14 years old.  A boyfriend had gotten her addicted to the drug.  Makell was in and out of jail on a variety of offenses.  When she would be arrested she would get clean.  More recently, when she would be released from jail, she would re-unite with Jordan Huff and relapse into drug usage.

Makell’s brother Cory also indicated that Makell and Mr. Huff had been on a drug binge for the last several weeks in the Antioch area.

Post-Mortem Results

The post-mortem examination indicated that Makell Meyerin’s cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds to the upper torso and legs.

Toxicology Results for Makell Meyerin

During the course of Ms. Meyerin’s autopsy, samples of her cavity blood, vitreous humor, urine, and bile were submitted for analyses.  When the toxicological review was performed, a positive result was obtained for the following substances:

·         Opiates

·         Cocaine/Metabolites

·         Benzodiazepines

·         Fentanyl/Metabolites

·         Naloxone

·         Clonazepam

·         7-Amino Clonazepam

·         Alprazolam

·         Cocaine

·         Benzoylecgonine

·         Morphine-Free

·         6-Monoacetylmorphone

·         Buprenorphine-Free

·         Norbuprenorphine-Free

·         Fentanyl

·         Norfentanyl





Based upon the facts gathered in this investigation and a review of the applicable Illinois Statutes, Sgt. Ward and Officer Bozer acted reasonably and appropriately.

Gurnee Police were notified that an occupied suspicious vehicle was in a residential neighborhood at Gould Avenue.  This concern is what brought Gurnee Police Officer Benjamin Bozer to that location.

Officer Bozer was in police uniform and driving a Gurnee Police squad car.  His emergency lights had been activated.  As he approached the vehicle, Officer Bozer noted that a male front-seat passenger and female driver were both unconscious. 

The male’s labored breathing led the officer to believe that, at a minimum, there was at least one suspected drug overdose that may be occurring.  Officer Bozer’s sole concern was to provide aid to these two people. Officer Bozer was able to wake Ms. Meyerin and attempt to render aid to her and her companion.   Ms. Meyerin had no interest in cooperating with the officer or abiding by his requests.  Her sole interest, in contrast, was to flee the police.  That is precisely what she did.

Ms. Meyerin sped away from the officer, then made a U-turn, drove across a residential lawn to evade the officer, drove erratically through a construction zone, suddenly darted through other residential streets, and crashed her car in a public park.  Her passenger remained passed out in the car. She armed herself with a military-style rifle.  She proceeded out into the area of a major Lake County highway with heavy traffic.  She ignored repeated requests from the police to remain calm and to drop her gun.  She ignored officers’ assurances that her companion was safe, secure, and being cared for.

Ms. Meyerin, through her actions, displayed familiarity and competence in the handling/operation of the rifle.  Whether she was crawling on the ground, walking with the gun in hand, maneuvering the weapon into position, or operating the firing mechanism, she displayed a keen awareness as to its operation. 

As Ms. Meyerin continued to ignore police requests to put the gun down, she was placing countless individuals in danger including numerous police officers, citizens in neighboring single-family homes, citizens at Chittenden Park, citizens in the surrounding yards and walkways, and countless motorists on Route 41.

Officers took extreme care to try to calm Ms. Meyerin and to eliminate any harm to her or any persons in the vicinity.  They requested that she drop her gun.  They assured her that Mr. Huff was being cared for.  They referred to her by the names “honey” and “sweetie” in order to present words designed to soothe, pacify, and calm Ms. Meyerin.  The officers displayed impressive restraint and incredible reserve in dealing with this armed individual. 

Ms. Meyerin disregarded every request made by law enforcement.  During the incident, multiple officers heard Ms. Meyerin state “Just shoot me.”  Multiple officers heard her “rack” her gun in order to prepare it for firing.  When Ms. Meyerin levelled the gun at officers, her finger was on the trigger.  Sgt. Ward and Officer Bozer believed that their lives, the lives of their fellow officers, and the lives of the citizens present in the area were in danger of imminent death or great bodily harm.

It was only then that they fired their guns to eliminate this threat.  It should also be noted that once the threat ceased, they immediately stopped firing their weapons and took steps to aid Ms. Meyerin.

Her gun, a Beretta Cx5 Storm tactical carbine rifle, had one live shell in the chamber.  The magazine contained 5 live rounds.  The selector switch was in the “fire” position.

In accordance with my office policy regarding police officer-involved shootings involving death, I will be making the case file available to the public.  Transparency is essential to promoting public trust.  Please note that due to ethical, legal, and privacy issues, not all of the case file can be made public and some of the reports will be redacted to comply with those concerns.  This file will be available on the State’s Attorney website to anyone who wishes to view in the coming weeks.

I express my condolences to the family of Makell Meyerin.  I would like to acknowledge the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force for its expertise, dedication, and thoroughness.  I would like to acknowledge the professionalism exhibited by Sgt. Ward, Officer Bozer and all of the officers of the Gurnee Police Department during these trying circumstances.  Lastly, my thanks to the Citizens of Lake County for their patience and cooperation in this matter.


 -Lake County State's Attorney Michael G. Nerheim 



Lake County State's Attorney's Office 18 N. County Street Waukegan, IL 60085  Phone: (847) 377-3000