NORTH CHICAGO (CBS) — Lake County prosecutors have decided not to seek criminal charges against North Chicago police officers in connection to the death of a man who was involved in a violent confrontation with police last November.
Prosecutors said an independent investigation by Illinois State Police revealed the officers who punched Darrin Hanna and subdued him with a stun gun acted properly after he threatened the officers as they responded to a domestic dispute.
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“In this case, the Illinois State Police investigation shows that North Chicago Police acted reasonably and appropriately,” the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office said in a statement issued Tuesday.
“Based upon the facts gathered by the Illinois State Police investigation and a review of the applicable Illinois Law, the police utilized reasonable force to subdue and arrest Mr. Hanna,” they added.
According to prosecutors, state police interviewed several people about the domestic dispute in North Chicago on Nov. 6, 2011, which ultimately led to Hanna’s death. Investigators spoke to Hanna’s girlfriend, her sister, neighbors who heard the dispute, police officers who responded to the incident, as well as Hanna’s family.
Hanna’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of North Chicago, claiming the officers beat and shocked him for 20 minutes. They also claimed he did not resist arrest.
But the prosecutors’ report said Hanna lunged at police officers and tried to bite and head butt them. It also said 911 records indicate police called for an ambulance for Hanna less than two minutes after entering the apartment.
State police determined the domestic dispute began when Hanna’s pregnant girlfriend received a call from a female friend and Hanna believed the call was from another man, according to the prosecutors’ report.
Hanna allegedly became enraged and threatened to kill his girlfriend and her unborn child.
At one point, he forced her to strip naked and get into a bathtub, which he had started filling with water. He allegedly pushed her head under the water and, when he finally let her up, she grabbed her cell phone and called her sister for help.
The sister called police, authorities said.
“Neighbors and family members heard a beating taking place and Mr. Hanna threatening the lives of the victim and her unborn baby,” prosecutors said in their report. “When the officers arrived, they could hear fighting, struggling, and a woman screaming from an open second floor window.”
When police entered the apartment, Hanna’s girlfriend ran out of the bedroom, naked and screaming.
“Mr. Hanna then came out with fists clenched, screaming ‘shoot me’ several times,” prosecutors said. “Mr. Hanna then rushed at an officer in an attempt to strike him. Mr. Hanna was taken to the floor. Mr. Hanna ignored all requests to comply with the police.”
According to prosecutors, Hanna tried to bite and head butt officers when they tackled him and continued to resist until officers punched him in the face, shocked him with a stun gun, and hit him in the legs with a baton.
Hanna was then taken to a hospital when police noticed blood on his face.
Hanna died a week later and, although an autopsy by the Lake County Coroner’s office and an independent autopsy requested by the family both revealed the use of a stun gun and the beating Hanna took from officers contributed to his death, he also died from several pre-existing medical conditions and drug abuse.
Both autopsies also cited complications from cocaine abuse, renal problems, hypertension, and sickle cell disease.
Lake County prosecutors said the state police investigation determined Hanna’s family members tried to obstruct justice by inducing witnesses to lie to police, but prosecutors decided not to seek charges against Hanna’s family.
In the wake of the scandal stemming from Hanna’s death and other allegations of police brutality in North Chicago, police Chief Michael Newsome resigned late last month. Newsome had been put on administrative leave by North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham just after New Year’s, pending the outcome of the investigation of Hanna’s death.
Rockingham called Newsome “a consummate law enforcement professional and a tremendous team player.”
Hanna’s family has demanded the officers involved in Hanna’s death be fired and prosecuted.