The suburban teenager at the center of a controversial arrest, in which Oak Lawn police officers were seen beating the 17-year-old on camera following a foot chase, has been released into the custody of his parents.
Leaning on a walker as he exited the Cook County Juvenile facility Tuesday afternoon, Hadi Abuatelah thanked supporters who cheered his released.
"Thanks for all the support," the 17-year-old said.
Prosecutors requested a three-week continuance in the case after police sought charges for a total of five crimes, including two felonies. Abuatelah was ordered released by a judge when prosecutors said the Cook County State's Attorney’s office has not yet decided if it will follow through on charges filed by the Oak Lawn Police, which include unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest.
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The teen, who was released from Advocate Christ Medical Center where he was treated for injuries following the arrest, had been transported to the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center this week, Oak Lawn police said in a news release.
According to police, the incident unfolded last Wednesday when an officer on patrol detected the smell of burnt cannabis coming from a vehicle, which had no front license plate. The officer pulled the vehicle over and directed the driver to exit, according to police. After the driver got out, officers asked the rear driver's side passenger to exit the vehicle, noting he "appeared nervous and had an accessory bag draped over his shoulder."
When asked to place his hands on the vehicle, the 17-year-old took off running, as shown in dash camera video of the incident released by the Oak Lawn Police Department. Officers attempted to apprehend the suspect near 95th Street and McVicker Avenue, but a struggle ensued when they tried to take him to the ground, police said.
The suspect grabbed his bag and tried to open it, according to police, who said the teen didn't comply when given verbal commands. Fearing the suspect was reaching for a weapon in the bag, the officers attempted to physically gain control of his hands, police said.
The video released by Oak Lawn police showed one officer hitting the teen multiple times on the legs, while another struck him near his head. Approximately one minute later, officers tased the individual and took him into custody shortly after.
A 25 mm gun, loaded with three rounds of ammunition, was discovered in the teen's bag, police said. He and an officer were both transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center due to injuries they both sustained.
Family members of Abuatelah spoke about the incident alongside members of the Arab American community last week, demanding the firing of the officers involved.
"Yesterday he was in the car with his friends. Cops attacked him and beat him to death almost," Abuatelah's mother, Dena Natour, said one day following the arrest. "He has fractures all over his face. He is bruised. He is in the hospital right now with a neck brace. Very traumatizing..."
Oak Lawn police defended its officers' actions, saying the subject "refused to listen to verbal commands which resulted in a physical confrontation with two officers."
"I don't think that's what matters here," an attorney representing Hadi's family said. "I think what matters here is that you have two individuals, grown, back on top of a juvenile, smashing his head into the pavement. That's what matters here."
The Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force is investigating the use-of-force in the incident.