Chicago's police superintendent on Monday ordered the officer who is seen in now-viral video encountering a Black woman walking her dog at North Avenue Beach this weekend be placed on administrative duties during the incident's investigation, CPD confirmed.
The same day, Chicago's police oversight agency recommended the officer either be relieved of police powers or be placed on administrative duties until the completion of its investigation.
"We are committed to a fair, timely and objective investigation to determine if the actions of the involved officer are in accordance with Department Policy and Training,” said Civilian Office of Police Accountability Interim Chief Andrea Kersten in a statement. “We have a responsibility to investigate allegations of police misconduct and determine if they are well founded based on the facts and evidence of each case. If violations did occur, COPA will hold the officer accountable."
COPA said the agency obtained and reviewed the officer's body camera video from the incident and has requested to see footage from several other cameras in the area. The agency acknowledged the video has been "widely circulated" on social media.
"If anyone witnessed, has additional information or video regarding this incident, please contact us at chicagocopa.org or 312-746-3609," the agency said in a statement.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday said she was "disturbed" by the video.
"I saw the video. I was quite disturbed by what I saw," Lightfoot said during an unrelated press conference. "It looked like the woman was following the direction of the officer and leaving the beach."
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown provided few details on what happened during the incident when asked about it Monday.
"What we do know is there was some closure of the beach, apparently, that preceded this interaction," he said. "That's the extent of what we know. We don't have an arrest apparently by this officer and we don't fully understand, because we haven't interviewed this officer yet."
Brown said an internal investigation was launched after the incident and that investigation was then given to COPA, which looks into allegations of police misconduct.
Attorneys for the woman in the video allege she was "brutally attacked" in what was "an obvious case of racial profiling."
Saulter Law, the office representing Nikkita Brown, said in a statement that she was near the lakefront just after midnight Saturday walking her dog in Lincoln Park when a Chicago police officer approached her for being in the area after the park was closed.
In a roughly two-minute long video posted to Twitter by a bystander, the officer can be seen approaching Nikkita Brown and appearing to indicate that she needed to leave.
The woman is seen walking away as the officer follows, but their conversation cannot be heard in the footage. At one point she stops walking while holding up her phone and the officer then grabs the woman.
The woman is heard screaming and shouting "let go" as the officer continues to grab her, with her dog jumping on his leg.
"He attempts to tackle her, all while groping her body as she screams for help," Brown's attorneys said in a statement. "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."
The video has been seen hundreds of thousands of times on social media.
Nikkita Brown's attorneys said she told the officer she was leaving the area at the start of the encounter but asked him to keep his distance because he was unmasked.
"He ignored this request and mocked it, even as the deadly Covid-19 Delta Variant rages throughout our community," a statement from the attorney's office said.
The video ends with the woman breaking free, grabbing her phone and shoes and leaving the scene as the officer walks in the opposite direction.
Chicago's top cop said he is awaiting additional information from COPA's investigation before determining next steps involving the officer.
"COPA's just initiated contact with this person, have yet to interview the officer, so we don't have the person's full accounting of what happened, why it happened, what was said, nor do we have the full accounting of the officers statement," he said. "So it's just again, I know it's frustrating for the public to wait once you see a viral video for the conclusion to an investigation, but COPA just started. I just want to ask the public allow COPA to complete this investigation, and allow for this process of finding out what happened, getting to the bottom of it to play out before we then are able to make any kind of next steps from my perspective, from a COPA perspective."