Cops Behaving Badly? Arrestee Taunted by Bystanders

Officers relieved of police powers during investigation

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Two Chicago police officers have been relieved of police powers and an internal investigation has been launched after home video surfaced on the Internet. (Published Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011)

    The Chicago Police Department's Internal Affairs Division has launched an investigation into the conduct of two police officers who, in video posted to the Internet, appear to do little to stop a group of bystanders from taunting a young man in their custody.

    The video, which is about 90 seconds in length, was posted to YouTube on March 19 and subsequently shared with Chicago Public Radio.

    It begins with a shot of a crowd on a Humboldt Park sidewalk and the Chicago police vehicle on the street.

    The noise is not discernable until an off-camera voice says, "Get a close up."

    The camera then moves in for its next shot, revealing a man in the back seat of the police vehicle.  Two officers standing nearby appear to do nothing to block its access.

    "I get the feeling they probably wanted to scare him," said Sonia, a 16-year resident of the 1600 block of North Spaulding Avenue, where the incident unfolded.

    Sonia told NBC Chicago on Wednesday that she recalled hearing police say the young man claimed he lived on the street, but his information turned out to be bogus.

    As opposed to leaving right away, Sonia said police let the crowd taunt the arrestee with insults and apparent gang signs.

    "They were laughing; laughing at whomever is in the vehicle," she said.

    James Highsmith, a program director with the anti-violence watchdog group CeaseFire, looked at the video and said it doesn't help the CPD's public relations.

    "The police are trying to do things to change their image and change their position in the streets, but when you have incidents like this, it doesn't help," said Highsmith.  "They should have asked the young guys to move on so they could do their jobs with this individual."

    Police officials refused to clarify why the officers took the man into custody, but did say the Internal Affairs Division was looking into the matter.

    "The conduct that is alleged does not reflect the behavior and core values of the men and women of the Chicago Police Department nor our commitment to serve the community in a professional matter," the division said in a statement.

    Residents of the street, however, claim questionable police practices are the norm in their neighborhood.

    "This is the first time you've seen it.  Things like this happen around here all the time," said one Humboldt Park man who wished to remain anonymous, fearing police retribution.

    "They're not supposed to do a lot of things they do, and they do it.  They do whatever they want," he said, with his head veiled by a gray hooded sweatshirt and his face covered by a black mask.

    It appears the video has since been removed from YouTube.