Reporting Pamela Jones
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NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (CBS) – The death of a man who was shocked with a stun gun has put serious pressure on North Chicago Police Chief Mike Newsome, who was on the hot seat on Thursday.
Seven North Chicago officers are on desk duty while Illinois State Police investigate.
CBS 2′s Pamela Jones reports Newsome’s future was debated Thursday night at a city council meeting.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports
The council voted 4-3 in favor of suspending Newsome, pending the results of the state police probe, but they needed five votes for the suspension to go into effect and the Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr. chose to keep Newsome in place.
Relatives of Darrin Hanna – who died last month after police officers allegedly beat him and shocked him with a stun gun – and other North Chicago residents are asking the city council and the mayor to get rid of Newsome.
They blame him for the fatal incident, but the mayor says Newsome has done a good job, despite isolated incidents.
North Chicago Residents crowded into the meeting, demanding answers about several arrests where they say police officers’ use of force went too far.
Surveillance video shows North Chicago police officers beating and kicking 61-year-old Stretha Alston when he was arrested during a traffic stop in North Chicago in 2009.
At Thursday’s council meeting, Alston recalled the beating, saying “They kicked me, they stomped me.”
His injuries were severe enough to stir up raw emotion for him and the families of other victims of alleged police brutality.
The discussion was prompted by Hanna’s death last month, after police beat him and shocked him with a stun gun.
Hanna’s uncle, Raymond Mayfield, told police, “You killed him. You beat my nephew to death and I want you to hear that. You beat him to death.”
Hanna’s mother, Gloria Carr, said police brutally beat Hanna and hit him with an electric shock device. He died on Nov. 13, a week after the incident.
His family had harsh words for officers.
“I want the officers to suffer and be charged with murder,” Carr said.
But Rockingham said no action can be taken until state police, a coroner’s inquiry and internal investigations into the matters are complete.
He also said removing Newsome as police chief before those investigations are complete would be premature.
“At this point we do have to be patient,” he said.
But Alston’s attorney, Muriel Collins, said the video of his client’s beating shows police brutality happens far too often in North Chicago.
“It’s just excessive. It has to stop,” Collins said.
Alston said looking at a photo of his swollen face and watching the video still hurt, but his attorneys said it’s all to help stop what they call unwarranted violence from police.
“He tased me behind my head and in my back and I hollered and then he tased me again in my back,” Alston said. “It’s unbelievable.”
The Fraternal Order of Police had a representative at the meeting, who told alleged victims’ families that police understand their pain. But he said justice must be served the right way, with a thorough independent investigation.