Man Trying to Help “Woman in Distress” Busted by Chicago Police for Soliciting Prostitute

By: Gerri L. Elder

I’ve heard stories about men who will walk away from a crying, lost child at the mall or raise their hands above their shoulders if they accidentally bump into a child, all because they are afraid of being arrested for some criminal act that they would not even consider doing.

This story is not about a man and a child, but instead about a man, his wife and his grown daughter. Oh, and also a woman who seemed to be in distress. After hearing the news of this story, it is easy to understand why it is so hard for people who truly need help to find any. Our society and overzealous police forces have made it a scary proposition to even try to lend a helping hand these days for fear of being accused of a crime.

Chicago residents Erasmo and Rocio Palacios were in their car at around 8 a.m. one morning after they had taken their 6-year-old daughter to school. They had picked up their 22-year-old daughter and were going take her out for breakfast. Erasmo had parked the car in front of a restaurant where his daughter had purchased coffee. She wanted to run in and exchange it for a hot chocolate, so her mom and dad just waited in the car.

Rocio saw a woman across the street who appeared to be in distress. She was waving her arms and Rocio thought that she needed help. She pointed out the woman to her husband.

The couple says that shortly after Rocio and Erasmo took notice of the woman she approached their car. According to the Palacios, the woman leaned into the passenger side of the car where Rocio was sitting and asked Erasmo if he would like to pay her $20 for oral sex or $25 for sex. The Palacios say that at that point they couldn’t help but laugh, realizing that the woman did not need any help, but instead seemed to be a prostitute looking to turn a trick.

The Palacios only found humor in the situation for a moment though before Chicago police moved in and surrounded their car. They handcuffed Erasmo, dragged him out of the car and charged him with soliciting a prostitute. In reality, the woman wasn’t in distress and she wasn’t a prostitute either. She was actually an undercover cop working a prostitution sting and apparently a bad actress, given that the Palacios had thought she was a woman in distress and didn’t even pick up on her role as a hooker until she offered sex for money.

The police report stated that Erasmo asked the woman for sex and it conveniently failed to mention the fact that his wife was in the car and his daughter was standing outside the car when the incident happened.

Erasmo Palacios has no previous criminal record. After he was arrested, police held him for eight hours. A few weeks later they completely dropped the charges against him. He is now suing the city and the officers involved in his arrest because he believes his civil rights were violated. He describes the incident as “frightening” and “ridiculous”. I think most people hearing the story would agree with that assessment.

Palacios’ criminal defense attorneys also have asked the city what happened to the family’s 1983 Mercedes, which was impounded the day Erasmo was arrested. The family has not seen it since it was taken. The morning of the bogus arrest, police threatened Rocio and the couple’s daughter with arrest if they tried to stop the car from being seized. The car was towed away that morning and the ladies were left standing on the street without a ride. The city says that if Erasmo wants his family’s car back, he will have to pay $4,700 in towing and storage fees, otherwise they will not return the car to him.

So, after reading Erasmo Palacios’ story I bet you won’t be so eager to help the next person you see in need. I know I always think twice now before interacting with strangers. Sadly, that is just the way our society is these days.