SKOKIE — A man who was caught on video berating a woman for wearing a t-shirt with the Puerto Rican flag is out of jail Friday, as he faces two felony hate crimes in connection with the incident.
Friends say 62-year-old Timothy Trybus had been drinking and taking pain killers for dental work when he encountered Mia Irizarry at the Caldwall Woods Forest Persevere and took issue with her t-shirt's depiction of the Puerto Rican flag.
Irizarry had a permit for a picnic shelter, and was there to celebrate her birthday when she encountered Trybus. She says she politely asked him to leave.
"Trybus then asked me twice if the the shirt I was wearing was the Texas state flag, and I told him twice it was the Puerto Rican flag," Irizarrys recalled.
As the video shows, Irizarry calmly asked Trybus to leave her alone, and even called for help from a Forest Preserve officer who appeared to do nothing. The officer in question, Patrick Conner, has since resigned.
Trybus' first court appearance came just hours after Irizarry spoke to reporters Friday. Charged with two felony hate crimes, Trybus is out on bond and can't leave his home or go anywhere near the woman he yelled at. Trybus' attorney David Goldman told the court his client has a problem with alcohol, and said while it was "offensive and obnoxious speech," it never escalated.
Irizarry says when Trybus got in her face she was scared something was about to happen.
"I can honestly say I feared for my safety," she said.
Trybus' friend John Bimmerly was at court Friday, and said what he saw on the video was not his friend of 25 years, saying he helps feed the homeless once a month and takes care of an elderly woman. He says Trybus is not a racist, "just stupid," and would apologize if given the chance. It was also revealed Trybus has a couple of misdemeanor convictions for assault.
"I also think if that police man would have walked over [to say] 'get the hell out of here,' this thing never would have went this far," Bimmerly said.
Despite what has happened, Irizarry said she plans to return to the Cook County Forest Preseve.
"I will go there, I will be happy there," she said.
Irizarry has called for additional discipline for the former officer who witnessed the harassment. Some critics and activists have called for the police department to pull his pension.