Chicago Police

Mother of Man Body-Slammed by Police Officer Says Chicago Police Need to ‘Do Better'

A police spokesman said the 29-year-old man became irate and spit in an officer's eye and mouth

The mother of a man who was hospitalized after being slammed to the ground by a Chicago police officer on Thursday shared her thoughts with NBC 5 after seeing video of the incident.

About 3:58 p.m., officers saw a man, identified as 29-year-old Bernard Kersh, drinking alcohol at a bus stop in the 700 block of East 79th Street and approached him, according to Chicago police. The incident was caught on video and quickly spread on social media.

"When I saw the video, I still didn't know if my son was dead, alive," said Keshia Johnson, Kersh's mother.

Police said Kersh became “irate” and licked the face of an officer and made verbal threats toward the officers, and then spit in an officer's eye and mouth.

"That's not what I saw, so I can't say if he did it or not," Johnson said. "But if he did, I still don't think he deserved to be slammed on his head. They could have killed my son, broke his neck..."

A 41-second video of the incident appeared to show Kersh facing a police SUV with an officer standing behind him when the officer picks him up off his feet and throws him to the ground. The 29-year-old appears to lie motionless in the street as other officers gather around him.

Chicago police said the officer used what is called an "emergency takedown" maneuver. The officer’s use of the maneuver was being investigated by the Chicago Office of Police Accountability (COPA), according to CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. He added that COPA asked for the officer involved to be relieved of police powers pending review, and the CPD agreed.

Police said charges were pending against the 29-year-old.

"They need to do better," Johnson said, referring to Chicago police. "They really do."

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