Two men -- one with a Ph.D. and the other pursuing his Ph.D. -- claim plainclothes Chicago police officers beat them at a North Side taco restaurant last month, allegedly because they were blocking the officers' path to the cash register.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Matthew Clark and Gregory Malandrucco claim that both plainclothes and uniformed officers who responded to the scene left them in a parking lot without providing medical assistance, "despite their obvious need of it."
The two men were just about to leave Arturo's Taco in Bucktown on February 7 at about 3 a.m., Clark recalled. He said Malandrucco was putting on his coat as a group of three people were walking up to the register.
"One of the men gave a pretty aggressive shove to Greg," Clark recalled. "And Greg said, 'I'm just putting my coat on, I'll be out of the way in just a second.' And everything seemed to be OK. They left. We paid for our meal. We walked out to the parking lot at that point and they were out there waiting for us."
The officers officers began to yell at them aggressively, Clark said.
"We don't want any trouble. Let's just shake hands and calm down and everybody'll go home. No problem," Clark remembers saying to the men. "They wouldn't accept it. They just initiated a physical attack at that point."
He said the plainclothes officers held him down and beat him until he lost consciousness.
A surveillance camera captured part of the beating.
"As I was laying down and getting punched, this woman that was with them is telling me, 'Quit resisting. They're cops. They're going to beat you,'" Clark said.
When Malandrucco attempted to stop the beating, according to the suit, the officers "responded by beating (him). (They) threw Malandrucco to the ground, hitting his head against the concrete and knocking him unconscious."
The suit says that at least three uniformed police officers arrived on the scene in marked squad cars. At one point, one of the uniformed officers "switched places with the plainclothes officer who was on top of Malandrucco, holding him down and striking him in the process," according to the suit.
Another one of the uniformed officers allegedly kicked or kneed Malandrucco, the suit said.
Clark was "bleeding profusely from the wounds on his head" and Malandrucco "was also bleeding from the wounds on his face," the suit said.
Though they "begged" the uniformed officers to help, the officers allegedly accompanied the plainclothes officers to their car and told Malandrucco and Clark to "go home and forget the incident ever happened," the suit said.
Both men suffered multiple injuries and "six weeks after the attack (Clark) still has a visible scar on his forehead and lip," the suit says. Both missed at least a week of work and have incurred thousands of dollars in medical bills, the suit said.
Clark said he is nervous anytime he sees a police vehicle. The men are seeking unspecified damages.
The city's law department said it has not seen the lawsuit and therefore could not comment.