The Village of Markham is once again the target of a lawsuit charging false arrest and excessive force.
Antonio Lee, a former cosmetologist, says on January 31, 2010, he went to the Markham police station to bail out a brother-in-law who had been arrested at a local sports bar. But other bar patrons had made the trip to the station as well, he says, and were causing something of a disturbance.
"People were talking back and forth to the police officers," he said. "I told them to calm down, let's figure it out."
Lee insists he was only seeking information so that he could get his relative processed out. But suddenly, he says, the situation changed.
"An officer grabbed my arm, and the other officers surrounded me," he said. "And it was a tragedy from there."
A lobby security video subpoenaed by his attorney, Sam Adam Jr., showed what happened next.
"They told me to shut the f*** up!," he said. "I was being the peacemaker, and I believe that personally they wanted to show they were tough and thru that injustice, I ended up being the one suffering from it."
"He put his hands up to let them know that he is not a threat and he's not resisting," Adam said. "That wasn't good enough for Markham!"
The tape shows a moving scuffle in the lobby.
"They slammed me up against a wall," Lee said. "An officer grabbed my arms and then he grabbed my neck and started choking me after that."
On the tape, the officers are seen maneuvering Lee to another room. It was a room which had no video.
"Once I got in the room, they beat me up," Lee said.
Adam says he believes the choice of that room was no accident.
All of that lobby is videotaped and camera angles from three or four different angles," Adam said. "The one room they take him into, which they admitted under oath, was the officers' locker room. It' didn't have a video camera in it, and that's where the injuries occurred."
Lee says he suffered back injuries so severe he had to quit his cosmetology job because he could no longer stand. He works now as an artist.
Last month, Adam says, after a brief trial where he did not even put on a defense, the charges against Lee were dismissed.
"Antonio was trying to calm the situation down," Adam said. "And that's what the judge found."
Attorneys for the Village did not return phone calls seeking comment.