BELMONT CRAGIN — The family of Mia Wright is calling for a criminal investigation into the police officers who pulled Wright from her car, dragged her by her hair and knelt on her neck outside of a Northwest Side mall Sunday.
The family, which has hired attorney Nenye Uche to represent them, is also demanding the disorderly conduct charges filed against Wright be dropped.
“I was in my car with my family … just driving,” Wright told reporters at a press conference Thursday morning, held in the Brickyard Mall parking lot where she was attacked. “I could’ve died … the way I was just tossed out the vehicle like an animal.”
The violent attack, first reported by Block Club Chicago, was captured on cellphone video.
Wright, 25, and her cousin, Tnika Tate, 39, were running errands at the Brickyard Mall, 2600 N. Narragansett Ave., with three other family members when police swarmed their car.
WARNING: Video contains violent encounter
Without explanation, officers dragged Wright out of the car by her hair, threw her to the ground and pinned her by her neck — eerily reminiscent of the police confrontation that led to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, which has sparked massive protests across the country.
During the attack, a piece of glass from the shattered window got in Wright’s eye. Police called Wright a “f—— savage” and called the family “b——s,” she said.
Police also dragged Wright’s family friend, a man, out of the car during the attack. The family did not provide more information about the man beyond that he is a family friend but said police let him go.
Wright was detained for several hours, charged with disorderly conduct and suffered injuries from the shattered glass hitting her face.
“It is not OK. Animals don’t even get treated like that. Calling her a savage, calling her a b——, it’s wrong,” Uche, the family’s attorney, said at Thursday’s press conference.
Lightfoot on Wednesday said she and Police Supt. David Brown are taking allegations of misconduct seriously and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability — also known as 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,” the mayor 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.”
When asked about the attack Thursday, Lightfoot said she is “confident that COPA is doing everything it can to identify the officers and then will make appropriate recommendation.”
“I’m not the head of COPA, I’m the mayor. I want COPA to … be doing its job but doing it independently,” she said.
At Thursday’s press conference, Uche said the mayor has not yet reached out to the family.
Uche said they’re working with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and are now calling for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office to conduct a criminal investigation.
“We all know that if this was a normal person, a non-police officer, that rushing up to a vehicle, smashing windows, dragging them by their hair, putting their knee on their neck — we all know that’s going to instigate criminal charges. It wouldn’t take 24 hours before you charge a felony,” he said.
“We’re asking for an investigation by police because this was a highly unethical and vicious attack. And it’s shameful and disgraceful.”
Kim Foxx, Cook County state’s attorney, said in a statement after the press conference that the office is “aware of the incident … and are currently conducting a thorough, independent review of the matter, including the conduct of the police officers involved.”
Police have 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 baffles the family, as they hadn’t even exited the car.
Asked for her response to the police statement at Thursday’s press conference, Wright said, “… Why was I only arrested if that was the case?”
Uche called the disorderly conduct charges “absolute nonsense.”
“Obviously [police] thought she was someone else,” he said. “Why use that force if you’re not trying to provoke fear and chaos? It has to stop. The charges should be dropped. They’re nonsensical.”
The charge is being handled by the city, not the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, because it was an alleged violation of city ordinance.
Wright, who was choked up as she answered questions from reporters, said she now has to see an eye specialist after the piece of glass from the shattered window got in her eye. She said she has anxiety and she can’t sleep.
“All I thought about was what happened to George Floyd,” she said through tears. “It could’ve been another situation like that. I didn’t do anything.”
WARNING: Videos contain violent encounter
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.