A family has filed a lawsuit against a suburban police department after they say a 27-year-old man died while in police custody last year, with officers failing to help him as he suffered through a medical emergency.
According to family and attorneys, DaJuan Gates died on Aug. 22, 2020 after he was detained following a foot pursuit in Forest Park.
“It was just devastating to deal with, and to actually have to re-live it, and re-living it now,” Tenell Coleman, Gates’ girlfriend, said.
According to family attorney Dan Kotin, Gates ran a stop sign in Forest Park on the fateful evening, then was arrested by Oak Park and Forest Park police after he fled the scene on foot.
Kotin says that Gates had taken PCP earlier in the evening, and had grown agitated during the chase, causing his body to overheat.
Police dashcam footage released by the family’s attorneys shows Gates struggling to stand and speak.
“What’s your deal man? I told you, you gotta speak,” one of the officers is heard saying. “You gotta use words. Take a deep breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth, okay?”
Kotin says that the officers did nothing to help Gates, even as he suffered through a medical emergency. Attorneys say Rush Oak Park Hospital was located just across the street from where Gates was detained, and that officers failed in their duty to get help for him.
“At one point, they even picked him up and put him in the back of the police car, drove him into the ambulance bay of the emergency room, but didn’t take him out of the car,” Kotin said.
After 21 minutes in custody, Gates went into cardiac arrest, and paramedics were called to the scene.
“Me and his father went straight to the hospital, and there was really nothing they could do,” Coleman said.
Gates was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Now, the family has filed suit against both police departments, alleging that officers acted negligently in not taking him in for medical attention.
Both police departments declined comment, saying that they have not yet seen the lawsuit.
Coleman says that her life has been forever altered by the events of that evening, as she and Gates’ five children try to move forward.
“I’ve just been crying in the middle of the night, talking about him,” she said. “They miss him.”