Attorneys for an injured Chicago cops say a CTA supervisor did not follow police commands when a man was threatening to start a fire on a train last January and instead - inflamed the situation. His actions, they say, directly resulted in debilitating injuries sustained by Chicago police Officer Frank Proano.
Dramatic surveillance video captures the moment flames ignite as officers rush a man threatening to light himself on fire. The Jan. 18 incident happened at the CTA Red Line’s Argyle stop.
"Officer Proano did the right thing," attorney Lance Northcutt said. "He secured the area. He kept people safe."
Sixteen-year veteran Proano was one of the officers who helped take down 28-year-old David Ferguson, who was later charged with aggravated arson and aggravated battery in the incident.
Leora Arsers was on the train at the time and says she was doused with paint thinner during the incident.
“I feel like there were more police officers there than CTA officials on the platform, so it really seemed like the police officers were in charge, and everyone was going to follow what they were going to say to do," she said.
But attorneys for Proano say a CTA supervisor did not follow orders. They filed a lawsuit against the transit agency Friday as well as the supervisor who they say acted negligently during the incident resulting in serious injury to Proano.
“It’s seven months now and he’s nowhere near back to the person he once was in terms of his physical abilities,” Northcutt said of Proano.
The lawsuit asserts that Proano instructed the CTA supervisor to secure the doors to contain the subject but instead he approached the subject and charged him.
“He attempted to kick that can out of the man’s hands and when that didn’t work he engaged in what can only be described as a free-for-all,” Northcutt said.
As a result, the attorneys say, the two officers were forced to rush in as flames engulf the car.
At one point one officer’s shoes catch fire--something attorneys say would never have happened were it not for the supervisors actions.
“Officer Proano never would have had to go in and break up two fighting subjects were it not for the conscious decisions of the CTA employee," Northcutt said.
The lawsuit is seeking monetary damages in excess of $50,000 for physical and emotional injuries.
The CTA said it does not comment on pending litigation.