There was an emotional exchange outside the chambers of the North Chicago City Council on Tuesday after the death of man who was allegedly beaten while in police custody was reclassified a homicide.
The attorney representing the seven police officers accused in the 2011 attack on Darrin Hanna faced off against the man's family and a state representative, defending her clients' actions until the end.
"I will not stand by with your rank conjecture and speculation. This will be brought out in a civil lawsuit in a court of law, and the truth will be had at that point," Laura Scarry said firmly before being cut off.
"It will be brought out in a criminal lawsuit," Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan) snapped back. "These are criminals and we want them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
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Hanna, 45, died at a hospital a week after the alleged beating. His death was originally ruled "undetermined." Then-coroner Artis Yancey blamed a "combination of complications" for the death including: "Acute and chronic cocaine abuse, physical trauma and restraint, Taser restraint, poorly controlled hypertension and chronic renal insufficiency."
Hanna's mother, Gloria Carr, never bought that argument and filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court, arguing that a beating inflicted by police led to her son's death.
In the council chambers on Tuesday evening, Hanna's cousin asked the mayor and aldermen to bring changes to the police department. At least one alderman appeared to be on board.
"The coroner, with his new ruling, says that there's a cloud ... and that could says that there's some corruption," said Ald. Charles January (7th).
The new autopsy findings coupled with a new Lake County State's Attorney gave Hanna's family and friends new hope. But Mike Nerheim said the finding of homicide does not translate directly to crime. He said that if criminal conduct is uncovered his office will prosecute regardless of the coroner's findings.
Hanna's death prompted several other people to come forward claiming they'd been victimized by the North Chicago Police Department.