NATO Protester Sues Chicago for Excessive Force, False Arrest

Police misconduct lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that, despite Chicago’s desperate attempts to curb violence and conflict in the city, innocent residents continue to be mistreated and wrongfully arrested. One resident, Philip Devon, is now suing the city for allegedly using excessive force to arrest him during a 2012 NATO protest.

Devon claims he was peacefully protesting the NATO summit, along with about 3,000 others, the day he was arrested last year. He was near the intersection of State and Madison downtown on the night of May 19, 2012 when police officers formed barricades and told the crowd to move back. Devon tried to comply, but was stuck in the front of the crowd, and the hoards of protestors pushed him forward toward the police lines.

His suit alleges that one officer shoved Devon facedown onto the ground, hit him with a baton, dragged him 30 or 40 feet, and ultimately handcuffed and arrested him. He affirms that he was demonstrating peacefully and that the Chicago police had no right or justification for arresting him. He is now claiming the use of excessive force, wrongful arrest, and malicious prosecution. Two officers and the city of Chicago are named in the suit, and he is seeking unspecified damages.

His was one of about two dozen arrests during the week-long summit. Superintendent Garry McCarthy told Reuters that his goal was to extract protesters who were too provocative, which we assume was what they considered Devon. Several protestors ended up having to be treated at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, and at least one officer was admitted to Stroger Hospital with minor injuries.

Tense confrontations such as this are not, unfortunately,a rare occurrence on the streets of Chicago. Mirroring efforts in New York City, police officers in Chicago have recently started patrolling violence-prone neighborhoods with a stop-and-frisk policy. The policy allows officers, without a warrant, to search and disarm anyone who seems suspicious.

There are obvious, inherent problems with this policy, but advocates are insistent that it will reduce gun violence. They are comparing residents being randomly stopped and searched to passengers being scanned at airport security. The comparison is significantly lacking, however, because passengers at airports voluntarily agree to and expect searches before boarding. Residents of Chicago’s embattled communities, on the other hand, are unwilling to cooperate with officers, who have a long and illustrious history of corruption and mistreatment in these communities.

This culture of distrust is only further complicated by a city that is still significantly racially segregated and is trying to recover from a breakdown in police/community relations. Already in 2013, for example, the CPD has cost taxpayers nearly $40 million in settlements to victims of police abuse and misconduct. Superintendent McCarthy recognizes the conflicts and affirms that the lack of trust was earned – but that he and his department are trying to convey a new message. CPD recently initiated the largest police legitimacy training in the nation as part of this change in culture and message.

The unfortunate reality is that most of the fatal violence in Chicago is carried out by a small group of dangerous people with extensive criminal histories. The police are attempting to combat this by searching the largest number of residents possible, which, at the moment at least, is only resulting in a growing number of residents who feel disrespected, violated, and alienated. Police should instead target their energies on the small percentage of young adult males in the most embattled neighborhoods who are committing the devastating gun violence.

These communities need to see that Chicago officers can tell the difference between law-abiding youths and those engaged in violence posing a threat to public safety. Increased police presence in high-crime areas is important, but gaining the respect of those residents is just as critical to reducing lethal violence.

Police brutality lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm recognize that rouge officers who do violate citizens’ civil rights must be held responsible for their crimes. It only takes a few malicious officers to alienate a community, and the abuse is too often swept under the rug. If you or a loved one was the victim of police misconduct and suffered a serious injury, you have important legal rights. Our attorneys have extensive experience advocating for victims of police brutality, and will help you obtain the largest settlement possible for your suffering.

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