An independent investigator has found no evidence of police misconduct or racial bias in the arrest of a black patient who was accused by a white security officer of stealing equipment when he stepped outside a northern Illinois hospital last month while still attached to an IV stand, according to a report released Wednesday.
In his report for the city of Freeport, Hazel Crest Police Chief Mitchell R. Davis III said he found no evidence that race played any role in the security officer's decision to stop 24-year-old Shaquille Dukes — who was still wearing his hospital gown — and two other black men as Dukes alleged at the time in a video of the incident that he posted on Facebook.
Instead, the security officer "would have been negligent in his duties had he not stopped to inquire into what Dukes was doing outside," because he knew that leaving Freeport Health Network still attached to an IV is not allowed, Davis wrote.
In a brief telephone interview, Dukes, who now lives in Chicago, disputed many of the conclusions in Davis' report and said he still believes that he was a victim of an "overzealous, racist, security officer."
"When he stopped us he radioed the police and said, 'I have three black males attempting to steal property from the hospital,'" said Dukes, who added that before the call the first thing the officer asked him was if he was trying to steal the IV stand to sell on eBay.
Dukes said he's retained an attorney and plans to sue the police department, the city of Freeport, and the hospital where he was being treated for double pneumonia on June 9 when he and the two other men were stopped by the security guard and arrested by police on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.
"This is the first case I have ever heard of in America where you have a client who is arrested for being a hospital while black," said Attorney Ben Crump, who added he plans to "explore every possible legal remedy available to these young men."
Civil rights icon Jesse Jackson denounced the arrest and demanded justice in the case.
"We will not stand by and watch this happen without a mass action street effort in Freeport, Illinois," he said.
Davis, who was asked by Freeport's city manager to conduct an independent probe, suggested in his report that Dukes was less than fully cooperative in his investigation, saying that Dukes failed to show up for two scheduled interviews. He said a doctor said he didn't give Dukes permission to walk outside the hospital attached to an IV stand as Dukes contends.
Dukes acknowledged that he didn't show up for two interviews, but said the first time was because of a death in his family and the second because one a relative of one of his friends had been shot. He said it was "totally incorrect" that the doctor had not given him permission to go outside.
Also, Davis wrote that he was "unable to substantiate Dukes' complaint of cruel and unusual punishment."
Instead, after interviewing the security officer and watching the video, he believes the security officer "genuinely felt fear" for his own safety as Dukes and the other two men became increasingly angry.
Davis suggested that police could have deescalated the tense situation, particularly when Dukes was having trouble breathing.
"I believe ... officers present during Dukes' medical episode should have considered unhandcuffing him while he was in distress," Davis wrote.