Lawyers for a Black woman who could be seen in a video being restrained by a white Chicago Police officer as she walked her dog at North Avenue Beach called the physical altercation “an obvious case of racial profiling.”
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which probes allegations of misconduct by police, on Sunday opened an investigation into the incident captured on a viral video, which has been viewed more than 750,000 times across several social media platforms.
Nikkita Brown was near the lakefront with her dog Saturday around 12:12 a.m. when a Chicago Police officer approached her for being in the area after the park was already closed, according to a news release from the law office of Saulter Law P.C., the firm representing Brown.
Brown told the officer that she and her dog were leaving the park, the law firm’s statement said.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
In the video, Brown and her dog appear to be walking away from the officer as he follows closely. At one point, Brown turns around with a phone in hand and stops.
Moments later, the officer appears to reach for Brown’s phone and then grabs her. Brown can be heard yelling, “Let go!” as she struggled to break free.
Attorneys accused the officer of “violently” attacking Brown “for absolutely no reason.”
“He attempts to tackle her, all while groping her body as she screams for help,” the release said. “This unprovoked attack lasts for approximately two minutes, during this time Ms. Brown’s phone is knocked from her hands and she is knocked out of her shoes.”
When Brown is finally free, she can be seen on video picking up her phone off the ground before walking away with her dog.
Attorneys allege the encounter was racially motivated, noting there were several other individuals in the park that night, including a group of approximately four white people walking some distance behind Brown.
“This was an obvious case of racial profiling,” the statement said.
Brown returned home and called 911. She filed a report with a sergeant from the 18th District, though attorneys said Brown hasn’t received a copy of the report.
Brown is suffering “emotional trauma” from the “brutal, unprovoked and unlawful attack,” according to the attorneys.
The Chicago Police Department said it was aware of the video and referred the matter to COPA, which opened an investigation shortly after being notified of the incident.
Ephraim Eaddy, a spokesperson for the COPA, said the agency has been in contact with Brown’s attorney.
Patricia Roberts, who shared the video on Twitter and said she’s Brown’s mother, said in a tweet that the video was recorded by a city worker, who followed her daughter home, “making sure she was safe & not followed by the cop.”
Attempts to reach Roberts on Sunday evening were unsuccessful.