The Chicago police officer seen on video body slamming a man during a public drinking call last Thanksgiving is a trained mixed martial arts fighter who has been investigated for using excessive force in the past.
Officer Jerald Williams, who is currently suspended pending the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s (COPA) investigation of last November’s incident, was determined by COPA to have used excessive force in a 2018 incident.
NBC 5 Investigates obtained public records that show a police supervisor filed a complaint against Williams after he alleged the officer used close fists to subdue a man during an arrest. Body camera video from the 2018 arrest shows Williams describing to fellow officers that the arrestee was a flight risk.
COPA investigated the 2018 complaint and recommended Williams be suspended for 15 days, although the matter is in litigation and a stay was issued until it is resolved.
“The Chicago Police Department is allowing officers with histories of excessive force on the streets interacting with individuals,” said attorney Andrew M. Stroth, who is representing Bernard Kersh in a lawsuit against Williams and the City of Chicago stemming from the Thanksgiving slamming incident. “So, to me, that’s a dangerous combination.”
Stroth said Kersh, 29, is schizophrenic and sustained head, shoulder and eye injuries as a result of being slammed to the pavement.
Officers at the scene said Stroth spit on Williams’ face and Williams responded by performing an emergency takedown.
According to Alexa Van Brunt of the MacArthur Justice Center, the takedown should have been avoided.
“It really seemed to get incredibly aggressive incredibly quickly and really good policing looks at deescalating situations and diverting situations,” Van Brunt said.
A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department said CPD awaits COPA’s findings from the body slam investigation and will review their investigation before determining what next steps are appropriate.
A spokesperson for the Fraternal Order of Police had no comment when asked about Williams’ Thanksgiving incident and previous complaint of excessive force.
Williams has three other allegations of misconduct, according to the Citizens Police Data Project. Although, none of the complaints were sustained.
Officer Williams fought several mixed martial arts matches between 2009 and 2012, and used the nickname ‘Bacon and Eggs,’ according to an online search.
Kersh is currently in jail following an arrest for theft and battery in January.
“We are working to raise the bond money to get Bernard out of custody and get the mental health treatment that he deserves,” Stroth said.