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Man Beaten By Chicago Police In Jail Cell Demands Public Apology From City

Damien Stewart said he wants city leaders to apologize after police restrained and beat him inside a jail cell in 2019. A video of the incident was released Tuesday.

Damien Stewart, who police beat and restrained during a 2019 incident, spoke out for the first time at City Hall on Tuesday.
Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago
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CITY HALL — A Chicago man has released video of police beating him in 2019 and wants city officials to publicly apologize for the incident.

Damien Stewart and activist William Calloway released the video Tuesday during a news conference at City Hall. They also called for the officers involved to be fired.

The video comes after Memphis police officers fatally beat Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop, a case that has made headlines across the country. The city’s police chief excoriated the officers’ behavior, calling it “heinous, reckless, and inhumane.” The five officers were fired and charged with murder.

Stewart was also stopped by police, though the incident occurred in May 2019, he said Tuesday. It stemmed from a license plate issue, he said.

Officers patted down Stewart at the scene, arrested him and then patted him down again before placing him in a cell, he said. Officers returned to the cell later to pat him down a third time, he said.

The video — which does not have audio — shows officers approach a Stewart’s cell while he’s lying down. Officers appear to talk to Stewart, then they go inside the cell.

Stewart sits up on the bed as officers appear to be searching his body for something.

Stewart stands and turns as officers continue to touch him, and eventually the encounter gets violent.

One officer grabs Stewart while another punches him in the face repeatedly and the two force him onto the bed. The two officers try to hold Stewart down and force him to the floor.

The video:

More officers come and observe as the first two continue to hold Stewart on the floor. A man talks to Stewart and the two officers, and the two officers get off of Stewart.

Stewart stands, bent over, and walks into a corner as all the officers leave the cell. He then lies back on the bed.

Stewart’s lawsuit stemming from the attack was settled for $45,000 in November 2021, Stewart and Calloway said. Both said police have not taken real accountability in the attack.

“What has not been resolved is the general fear and the trauma. These officers are still on the street,” Calloway said at the news conference. “I want to applaud Mr. Stewart, because it’s what he witnessed in Memphis that made him want to come out and tell his story.

“… There’s Black men across this country every day that have a paranoia, fear and anxiety any time they’re stopped by law enforcement.”

A police spokesperson said Sgt. Jerald Williams served a 15-day suspension in November 2021 and officer Enrique Delgado Fernandez served a 10-day suspension in April 2022 after a disciplinary grievance process in connection with the incident.

Stewart said he has had run-ins with police in the past, including for gun possession, but he now wants to change and get involved with anti-violence work through Calloway’s Passport for Peace program.

“It’s time to try something different and be a change in my community, for the young guys coming up after me,” Stewart said. “But it seems like every time I’m just getting targeted by CPD.”

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