CHICAGO (SCS) — A 17-year-old boy has filed a federal complaint against Oak Lawn police, after officers repeatedly punched him while he was pinned to the ground during an arrest last week.
Hadi Abuatelah was hospitalized with internal brain bleeding, a fractured pelvis, broken nose, lacerations and bruises after the July 27 violent arrest, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
The lawsuit claims three unnamed Oak Lawn police officers for “extreme and outrageous conduct”, repeatedly punching Abuatelah in the body, head and face, after he had already been tackled and pinned to the ground.
According to the lawsuit, Abuatelah was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped in Oak Lawn on the afternoon of July 27 when police attempted an unlawful search of the teenager.
The lawsuit acknowledges Abuatelah fled from the police, but says an officer tackled him and pinned him to the ground before that officer and two others began beating him without justification after the first officer have already mastered it. During the beating, one of the officers shocked him with a stun gun, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also accuses Oak Lawn police of “constructing a false version of events to conceal their conduct” by releasing edited dash camera footage of the arrest to justify the beating.
The day after the arrest, Oak Lawn police held a press conferenceshowing Abuatelah fleeing the traffic stop – leading to pursuit. Police do not wear body cameras in Oak Lawn.
Oak Lawn Police Chief Daniel Vittorio said an officer stopped the car Abuatelah was traveling in near Southwest Highway and Austin Avenue. Police said they smelled burning marijuana.
The driver obeyed the traffic stop, but police say Abuatelah got out of the car and started running, Vittorio said.
“He seemed nervous and had a bag of props draped over his shoulder,” Vittorio said.
Police said the bag was essential because as officers chased the teen to the intersection of 95th Street and McVicker Avenue, dash cam video shows police stalking. attack on the teenager – and officers claim Abuatelah continued to search for the bag.
According to police, Abuatelah “refused to listen to verbal orders, which resulted in a physical confrontation with two officers.”
After being captured, Abuatelah attempted to gain control of the bag during the incident, police said.
Vittorio also mentioned that officers feared Abuatelah reaching for a weapon and used control tactics to free the teen’s hands.
He continually resisted arrest until a stun gun was used, according to Chief Vittorio.
“One time they feared there was a gun in there, then it turned into a fatal incident,” Vittorio said. “So if this offender had pulled out that gun, he could have shot them. Were they supposed to wait for him to pull it out?”
Officers found a Raven Arms P25.25 caliber pistol in the bag loaded with three rounds, Vittorio said.
But Harris pointed out: “Nothing tells us so far that the police knew what was in the bag until later.”
Harris said there are major questions about the use of force in this case.
“They must do so in accordance with the legal standards and the information they have at the time,” he said. “So you don’t have to be reasonable in thinking there was a gun if it turns out there wasn’t. But you have to be reasonable in thinking there was. could have been. It’s just as reasonable to think, since the judgment talked about burning the smells of marijuana, that this bag contained marijuana.”
Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said that whatever the reason for Abuatelah’s pursuit and arrest, the boy was on the ground, helpless and not resisting when the officers started beating him, even though he posed no threat to them. He said that while Abuatelah is expected to recover from his injuries, it is only a “lucky fluke” that he did not suffer more serious injuries.
“The way he was beaten and kicked, it could have resulted in permanent brain damage that changed the quality of life,” he said last week. “No matter what he’s been charged with, we have a system in this country. You can subdue the suspect, you can arrest him, handcuff him, ask him questions. The police department said a weapon was found. They did not allege that this weapon was brandished, that it threatened them at any time.”
Rehab also said the family believes that while a gun was found during the arrest, it was found in a bag after Abuatelah was detained.
A legal expert spoke to CBS 2 last week about
David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said the norm tends to favor the police in these dangerous, fast-moving situations.
But while the police chief has stood by his officers, outsiders say there’s still a lot we don’t know.
Harris knows the questions the justice system will ask regarding videos showing Oak Lawn police officers beating 17-year-old Hadi Abuataleh during his recent arrest.
“That’s the central question – what was the nature of the threat that the police faced when they chased down this young man and brought him down?” said Harris. “Why was it necessary to use the degree of force they did?”
Abuatelah’s lawyer, Zaid Abdallah, said the officers who beat him should be suspended, pending an investigation into the beatings, and should eventually be fired.
“This is not police activity. This is a disgusting act of hatred and wickedness,” he said. “You could clearly see the minutes ticking by as the officers subdued my client; both, well over 200 pounds, on top of my client before punching him in the head knocking his head off the curb. Punches to the body, crushing It wasn’t a situation where they were trying to subdue a suspect, it was a situation that involved the meanness and hatred of these officers.
Abdallah also disputed the Oak Lawn Police Department’s claim that one of the officers involved had to go to the hospital.
“If he went to the hospital, he went to the hospital to have his knuckles checked so he wouldn’t break them on my client’s head,” he said.
The Illinois State Police Zone 1 Public Integrity Task Force is investigating the incident at the request of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, police said. state on Friday night.
Charges are pending against Abuatelah.