Attorneys: Autopsy Shows Police Brutality Caused North Chicago Man’s Death
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NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (CBS) – It’s been months since a 45-year-old man died one week after North Chicago police officers allegedly beat him during an arrest, but Lake County authorities have yet to issue an autopsy report.
Darrin Hanna’s family has sued the city of North Chicago, claiming six officers beat him and repeatedly shocked him with a stun gun when they arrested him over a domestic dispute. Their suit claims officers beat and shocked him for 20 minutes, even though he did not resist arrest.
As part of their lawsuit, attorneys commissioned an independent autopsy to prove their claims that Hanna died as a result of police brutality.
On Wednesday, they shared those autopsy results with CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman.
“As it relates to the death it’s very clear. I mean, there is no question that the physical beating by these police officers caused Darrin Hanna’s death,” said attorney Kevin O’Connor. “If the city is looking for the smoking gun, it’s certainly one of many rounds of ammunition they can have in order to take further action against these officers.”
Attorneys said Hanna was beaten and shocked with a stun gun at the hands of North Chicago police officers. Pictures from his hospital bed show severe swelling from his injuries.
The report released Wednesday details some of his injuries, including multiple external contusions and acute spleen damage. It also mentions Hanna’s sickle cell disease.
“The trauma related to the beating caused that event to become triggered. It’s commonly known that sickle cell can be brought on by trauma, and as a result of the trauma, he had multi-system organ failure and died,” O’Connor said.
Hanna family attorneys said they hope the findings they sought on their own put their call for justice on a fast track.
“The goal here is to root out these bad officers, to change this department, to change the supervision over the department,” O’Connor said.
It’s been months since the officers in question responded to the domestic dispute that resulted in the encounter with Hanna.
Illinois State Police have been handling the investigation, but have not announced any findings.
North Chicago’s city attorney said they need to be fair and thorough in their handling of the case, but he also said, during the investigation, six of their cops are on desk duty, straining the department.
“This is causing a great deal of consternation in the community. People are upset. The mayor wants answers. We all want answers,” attorney Chuck Smith said.
But Hanna’s family is tired of hearing the case is under investigation.
One reason they’re turning their autopsy over to the state’s attorney, attorney Muriel Collison said, is “the coroner hasn’t released a report. The coroner’s supposed to be doing an independent investigation. He won’t return the family’s calls, he won’t return our calls, he won’t return anybody’s calls.”
She said they’ve been told the coroner’s report was completed weeks ago, but the coroner’s office is refusing to turn it over.
The Lake County Coroner’s office did not respond to CBS 2’s calls for comment, either. Illinois State Police said their investigation should be wrapping up soon.
Hanna family attorneys said they believe if North Chicago police officers had been properly disciplined for previous allegations of excessive force, Hanna would still be alive today.