The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force is investigating a use-of-force incident in which Oak Lawn officers punched a teenage suspect multiple times during an arrest earlier this week.
In a press release late Friday, ISP said the Zone 1 Public Integrity Task Force is investigating an incident that occurred Wednesday in Oak Lawn at the request of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, adding that the investigation was ongoing.
According to police, the incident unfolded when an officer on patrol detected the smell of burning cannabis coming from a vehicle that did not have a front license plate. The officer stopped the vehicle and ordered the driver to get out, according to police. After the driver exited, officers asked the rear driver-side passenger to exit the vehicle, noting that he “appeared nervous and had a bag of accessories draped over his shoulder.”
When asked to place his hands on the vehicle, the 17-year-old began to run, as seen in dash cam video of the incident released by the Oak Lawn Police Department . Officers attempt to apprehend the suspect near 95th Street and McVicker Avenue, but a struggle ensues when they attempt to take him to the ground, police said.
The suspect grabbed his bag and attempted to open it, according to police, who said the teenager did not comply when given verbal orders. Fearing the suspect was looking for a weapon in the bag, officers attempted to physically take control of his hands, police said.
Video released by Oak Lawn Police showed an officer punching the teenager multiple times on the legs, while another punched him near the head. About a minute later, officers tasered the individual and took him into custody shortly thereafter.
A 25mm pistol, loaded with three rounds, was discovered in the teenager’s bag, police said. He and an officer were both transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center due to injuries they both sustained.
Family members of the teenager, identified as Hadi Abutella, spoke about the incident alongside members of the Arab-American community on Thursday, demanding the officers involved be fired.
“Yesterday he was in the car with his friends. The cops attacked him and almost beat him to death,” said Hadi’s mother, Dena Natour. “He has fractures all over his face. He has bruises. He is currently in hospital with a neck brace. Very traumatic…”
Oak Lawn Police defended their officers’ actions, saying the subject “refused to listen to verbal orders, which resulted in a physical confrontation with two officers.”
“I don’t think that’s what matters here,” said a lawyer representing Hadi’s family. “I think what matters here is that you have two individuals, adults, back on top of a juvenile, smashing his head against the pavement. That’s what matters here.”
The family’s press conference came the same day a new report was released about Muslims in Illinois, with 53% saying they have experienced discrimination or hate crimes.
“This is a vulnerable community, hate crimes are discriminated against and we want to make sure those who are supposed to keep us safe are not contributing to these types of discriminatory behavior,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council. on American Islamic Reports.