Monday, June 25, 2018

As Videos Circulate, COPA To Investigate Cops' Handling Of Post-Pride Brawl, Police Department Says

Screenshots from one of the videos showing a brawl on Belmont Avenue after Sunday's Pride Parade | YouTube 
How police handled a fight in the wake of Sunday’s Chicago Pride Parade is now the subject of an investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), according to a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department.

The videos were recorded as police were in their fifth hour of trying to maintain order along Belmont Avenue where large, lingering crowds sparked a series of fights following the parade.

At 9:33 p.m. on Sunday, police officers witnessed and responded to a battery-in-progress in the doorway of Big City Tap, a bar at 1010 West Belmont.

Footage of the incident captured by several bystanders shows men in “security” shirts involved in a physical altercation. At one point, a woman dressed in white is seen stepping from the sidelines. She then appears to punch a security guard in his arm or chest.

A Chicago police officer steps into view and separates the woman, who falls to the ground. In one video, her legs begin shaking in the air while a spectator screams "she's having a seizure." In another, officers are seen tending to her while awaiting an ambulance.

“CPD takes all force complaints seriously,” department Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi told us today. “The woman was involved in a physical fight with a group of individuals. When officers arrived, they attempted to break up the disturbance by subduing the woman to the ground.”

NOTE: The following videos contain strong language.

This video, filmed by a spectator walking on Belmont Avenue, offers the most visual information about what happened in the seconds immediately before the officer took action:


Another video posted by a friend of the woman in white offers a different angle, but does not show the lead-up to the officer's action:


Another video posted by the woman's friend shows police officers tending to the woman (NOTE: Some viewers may find this video disturbing.)


“The officer's actions were formally documented and the department will initiate an investigation into the complaint,” Guglielmi said, adding that the investigation will be conducted independently by COPA.

Guglielmi, saying the woman is not in police custody, could not confirm social media accounts that she had been hospitalized. The Chicago Fire Department did not immediately respond to a request for information. Police dispatch records show that an ambulance was requested at the scene for a woman who was injured in a fight.

During the overnight hours, CWBChicago contacted two individuals who posted the first videos of the incidents. Neither responded to requests for interviews and information.

Two Chicago police officers who saw the videos, speaking on condition of anonymity, said CPD’s General Orders would have allowed police officers to use what is called “an emergency takedown,” — which in plain language means “getting someone to the ground in a rapid manner,” one said. “Any use of force never looks good on the outside.”

“Ahh melees,” the other added. “Brawls are a huge officer safety issue, you usually have both hands busy, can't watch you or partner's back, and all your force options and gun are exposed.” Police typically “find the aggressors and stop the energy before it increases to an uncontrolled point.”

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