North Chicago Mayor Vetoes Council's Vote Suspending Police Chief

Council's 4-3 vote came after cauldron of emotion spilled over in meeting convened to discuss chief's future

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Many residents demand accountability for what they say is an out-of-control police department.

    The North Chicago City Council's split vote to suspend the police chief was quickly overruled by Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr. late Thursday evening.

    "He's, to me, doing a good job," Rockingham said of Chief Mike Newsome.

    Allegations of Police Brutality Dog North Chicago

    [CHI] Allegations of Police Brutality Dog North Chicago
    A Chicago man died after being beaten, and his mother claims police are to blame. Now two other men say they were also beaten by North Chicago police but were lucky enough to survive.

    The Council's 4-3 vote came after a cauldron of emotion spilled over in the crowded chambers for a special public meeting convened to discuss Newsome's future.

    Many demanded accountability for last month's death of 45-year-old Darrin Hanna.  Hanna was allegedly beaten by police responding to a domestic incident.

    "You killed him. You beat my nephew to death," said Hanna's uncle, Raymond Mayfield, staring into the eyes of several city police officers in attendance. "You killed him with those flashlights and those billy clubs."

    Gloria Carr, Hanna's mother, yelled at the officers during the majority of her remarks, her voice cracking with emotion.

    "You stole my life," she told them.

    Many in the audience could be seen crying as Carr asked her 4-year-old grandson where his father is these days. The little boy pointed to the sky.

    Despite her loss, Carr said the officers involved -- not Newsome -- should be punished. But others pushed for his dismissal, stressing that accountability starts at the top.

    "I'm embarrassed of our police force," shouted resident Azie Abrams.

    Of the dozens of speakers, just two voiced support for the chief.

    "I've come to know him as an honest man who loves this city," said resident Eddie Nero.

    The city has paid about $1.3 million to settle a half dozen police brutality claims during the chief's six-year tenure.

    Illinois State Police have launched an investigation into Hanna's death, which has resulted in seven officers placed on desk duty. 

    Attorneys representing Hanna's family and two other men say North Chicago police have a pattern of brutality that has been going on since at least 2006.

    When 61-year-old Van Alston was pulled over in 2009, video from the dash board camera of the squad car recorded him laying on the ground while being kicked and shocked twice with a Taser.

    "I thought they were trying to kill me," he recalled Thursday afternoon, hours before the Council's meeting.

    He was brought to tears thinking about Hanna.

    "I look at him. It could have been me," he said. "I can't let this continue to go on. This has got to stop."

    Alston settled with the city for fewer than $100,000, but others, like 77-year-old Walter White, are still waiting for justice.

    White says he was pulled over last year, suspected of drunken driving. He says he was beaten by officers and wound up in the hospital. He called for Newsome to step down or be fired.

    "North Chicago police station, they're out of hand," he said.

    Attorneys for the three men say the city had orders from a previous mediation that included the NAACP to address the problems with the police department.

    "They entered into an agreement to take several steps. Many of those steps were not taken, and this is the result," said attorney Kevin O'Connor.