The Round Lake Beach Police Department in suburban Lake County plans to request an external review of an incident in which a police officer punched a woman who bit him while she was experiencing a mental health crisis, according to activists.
Recently, a friend of the woman's called police, stating she was in mental distress. Police and firefighters arrived at an outdoor area to assist the woman, at which point bystanders began recording the interaction.
According to police, the woman bit one of the officers on the leg while he was helping firefighters secure her to an ambulance gurney. Cell phone video of the incident shows the officer striking the woman, which police officials said was meant to "get her to release her bite."
"While striking a person who is actively biting an officer is within policy, this video is disturbing," the police department said in a statement issued Saturday, adding it will look to have an external evaluation conducted.
On Sunday afternoon, residents, religious leaders and members of the Latinx community gathered outside the department to demand that the officer be removed from working with the public until an external review is completed.
"The police officer punched a restrained Mexican American girl four times in her face," Pastor Julie Contreras of Our Lady of Suyapa Sanctuary said in a news release. "This practice and pattern of police brutality inside of the Round Lake Beach Police must be put to a stop!"
Contreras added that activists plan to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Video of the incident has sparked outrage in the suburb - the same community where 21-year-old Abel Rosiles Jr. died in June after a confrontation with police officers.
Latinx community leaders also called it unacceptable that police did not follow protocol and handcuff the woman experiencing a mental health crisis.
"She was failed by the Round Lake Beach department yesterday. Horribly failed, and we need to put a stop to this," said advocate Erica Torres.