CHICAGO — Investigators are trying to find the police officers who pulled a Black woman from a car and kneeled on her in an incident caught on video Sunday in Belmont Cragin.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates misconduct in the Chicago Police Department, is looking into the violent confrontation, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a Wednesday call with reporters. Investigators are currently trying to get the video and identify the officers seen in it.
The video, first reported on by Block Club Chicago, starts with 39-year-old Tnika Tate, her 25-year-old cousin, Mia Wright, and three others in their car at the Brickyard Mall as police officers scream and bang on the windows.
Officers then smash the windows, drag Wright out of the car by her hair, throw her to the ground and pin her by her neck — eerily reminiscent of the police confrontation that led to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, sparking massive protests throughout the country.
Lightfoot said she has seen the video but she didn’t comment on what it shows.
“We’re doing what we normally do, which is when we see potential allegations of police misconduct, it gets referred to COPA for immediate investigation,” Lightfoot said. Later, she added, “I’m sure they’ve been in touch with the 911 center to find that incident report and so forth.
“But you can’t turn that around [quickly], particularly when you see a very fast, volatile situation. People aren’t saying, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m Officer … XYZ.’ … I know that work is underway” to identify the officers.
The incident was “devastating,” Tate told Block Club Chicago. She and Wright said they don’t know what led to it.
WARNING: Video contains violent encounter
Wright was detained for several hours, charged with disorderly conduct and suffered injuries from the shattered glass hitting her face. Tate was not arrested but had her car seized by police.
Police said Wright was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after “the offender was observed by responding officers assembled with 3 or more persons for the purpose of using force or violence to disturb the peace.”
This explanation baffled the cousins, as they hadn’t even exited the car. Wright has a June 22 court hearing on the charge.
Wright said she feared for her life when she felt officers kneeling on her neck. And later, when she was being detained, she was verbally abused and calling a “f—— savage” by a police sergeant, she said.
Lightfoot said she and Police Supt. David Brown are taking allegations of misconduct seriously and that COPA has put together a team of investigators that can quickly respond to reports of misconduct during the protests for Floyd.
“The superintendent and I … we don’t tolerate misconduct,” she said. At another point, she said, “I appreciate the restraint that our officers have shown under such very, very difficult circumstances, and we will continue to aggressively investigate and follow up on any allegations of misconduct.”
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