PARK RIDGE, Ill. (CBS) — A police officer in Park Ridge was acting within guidelines for the use of force when he beat a suspect who grabbed him and wouldn’t let go, the department says.
This past Thursday, Park Ridge police arrested Frank Slowik, 44, of Westmont outside the Dominick’s grocery store at 1900 S. Cumberland Ave. in the northern suburb.
Police had been called to the store at 3:20 a.m. for a report of a shoplifter, and found Slowik running from a store employee.
Mellema said one of the police officers ran after Slowik, grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground.
As the officers tried to restrain him, Slowik grabbed a second officer’s groin and refused to let go, Mellema said. The officer then struck Slowik several times in the face with his hand in an effort to get him to release his grip, Mellema said.
Slowik eventually let go, and was arrested and taken to Resurrection Medical Center in Chicago for treatment. A booking photo from the Cook County Jail shows bruises under both of his eyes and on the right side of his face.
Park Ridge Police Cmdr. David Keller said the department investigates whenever an officer uses force against a suspect. Keller said he believes the force used during Slowik’s arrest was acceptable and necessary.
“The force, under the circumstances, was reasonable in order to carry out the arrest,” he said.
The officer was treated at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and later released, Mellema said.
Investigators searching Slowik’s vehicle found about $1,000 worth of stolen seafood and meat, police said.
Slowik has been charged with retail theft, aggravated battery to a police officer and resisting arrest. Mellema said Slowik has a history of arrests for retail theft.
He is being held in the jail in lieu of $50,000 bond.
Park Ridge police have been the subject of high-profile complaints about excessive use of force.
This past February, suburban attorney Randy Baudin claimed in a lawsuit that Park Ridge officers permanently injured his shoulder as they arrested him during an argument at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. He called brutality by Park Ridge police a “systemic problem.”
But the lawsuit also drew attention to several other alleged victims of excessive force in Park Ridge, including Gavin Farley, who was just 15 years old when Park Ridge Police Lt. Jason Leavitt allegedly beat him and slammed his head into a sidewalk. Leavitt was indicted last fall for that crime.
The suit also listed Gregory Gorman, who has claimed that Park Ridge officers arrested his wife for a DUI and him for disorderly conduct and obstructing justice during a 2004 traffic stop, even though police video indicated no crimes were committed.
“It was a violent thing that they did and it hurt,” Gorman said. “And the bad part about it was my daughter, who was six years old, was sitting in the back seat. … She was crying.”
The charges against the Gormans were later dropped. They sued the department and settled.
Current Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski was brought in two years ago to address internal problems.
But in the Baudin case, Kaminski said in March that he believed the accounts of his officers and witnesses to the events.
“I thought everyone acted appropriately,” he said when Baudin’s lawsuit was dismissed.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.