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UPDATED 09/02/11 6:17 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Two brothers who claim they were beaten by Chicago police officers when they were mistaken for robbers as they were leaving the liquor store where they work have filed a federal lawsuit seeking more than $180,000 in damages.
Michael and Adrian Ayala claim they were leaving work at the 7-9-11 Liquor Store at 4848 S. Archer Av. on Aug. 17 when a group of police officers apparently mistook them for robbers.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports
After the incident last month, Michael Ayala said before he and his brother left the store that night, he went back inside because he had forgotten his keys, but police mistook them for robbers.
“I come out, and they had my brother handcuffed. I come out, just telling them, ‘What’s going on? I’m the manager here,’” he said.
Surveillance videotape of the incident shows a group of police officers taking manager Michael Ayala and his brother to the ground inside the liquor store.
Ayala said he explained that he had the key and could disarm and re-arm the ADT security system to prove he was the manager of the store and not a robber, but the officers were not interested.
Ayala says the real trouble began when he told police he had captured the situation on videotape.
“I told one of the cops, ‘I got you on camera, and I’m not going to let this go,” he said. “Now when that happened, the sergeant just flipped out on me and bashed my head right against this window right here.”
The store window to which he was referring was left cracked in a spider web pattern on the day after the incident.
After the beating, Ayala says he and his brother were arrested and taken to jail, as was his brother. They were released without charges soon afterward.
Ayala says he never did anything to provoke the beating.
“I never approached them to a point where I physically touched them,” he said. “I would never do that to an officer.”
But some reports the brothers were arrested after one of them threatened to kill the officers. The Ayala brothers’ attorney, Greg Kulis, says that is not how it happened.
“Even if you happen to believe that story, if you look at the videotape you can see this is not an arrest,” Kulis told WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller. “This is like a gang mugging.”
The lawsuit suit alleges false arrest and failure to intervene by the officers and seeks more than $30,000 in compensatory damages and more than $150,000 in punitive damages.
A spokesperson for the city’s legal department was not immediately available for comment. The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the brutality allegations.