Dashcam Video Shows Police Stopping Man Suspected of Stealing His Own Car

An Evanston man is suing the north suburb’s police department for excessive use of force and false arrest stemming from a 2015 traffic stop in which he was pulled over for suspected car theft while driving his own vehicle.

On Wednesday, Evanston police released dashboard video recordings of officers arresting Lawrence Crosby. The video also included audio of the call made to a 911 dispatcher reporting a man stealing a car, and audio recorded by Crosby’s own dash-mounted camera inside his vehicle.

Crosby was stopped, while driving his own car, in the 1500 block of Ridge Avenue in Evanston about 7 p.m. Oct. 5, 2015, according to the lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court last October.

In the video, a woman calls police to report an African American man in a hoodie who looked like he was breaking into a car at Sherman Avenue and Seward Street in Evanston. She tells the dispatcher the man was standing by the car with a long bar in his hands, and looked like he was trying to pry open the door. 

“I don’t know if I’m racial profiling,” the woman says to the dispatcher. “I feel bad.” 

Crosby’s attorney, Tim Touhy, said his client left his apartment in Evanston, fixed a piece of loose molding on his car, and was driving to Northwestern University—where he was pursuing a doctorate in engineering—when he was pulled over. 

Shortly after the woman worried she was racially profiling, Crosby can be heard saying he’s concerned that the woman thinks he was trying to steal the car, and says a black man can’t fix his car at night without someone thinking he’s stealing it.

When Crosby drove away, the woman followed him in her own vehicle and continued to report his location to police, who pulled Crosby over a short time later. 

Once his car is stopped, Crosby gets out of the vehicle with his hands in the air and tells officers he owns the car. The officers shout at Crosby, approach him with guns drawn, and pull him to the ground. They place him in handcuffs as he continues to tell them that he owns the car and has documentation for it. 

Later, when officers learned that Crosby was the registered owner of the car and had a valid license, they decided to charge him with disobeying a police officer and resisting arrest, Touhy said in a statement. Crosby was acquitted of the charges on March 9, 2016, in Cook County Circuit Court.

The five-count suit accuses the officers of malicious prosecution, battery and use of force, failure to prevent battery and use of force, vicarious liability and conspiracy. It names the City of Evanston and four police officers as defendants. 

Evanston police spokesman Cmdr. Joseph Dugan said he could not comment on the video because of the pending lawsuit against the city.

Other Evanston officials were not immediately available for comment Thursday night.

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