(CBS) — A Lynwood police sergeant has been fired for allegedly beating up a handcuffed man and the village has agreed to pay the victim half a million dollars to settle his lawsuit.
It took CBS and the Better Government Association a year to get videotapes documenting the alleged excessive force. That tape led to disciplinary action against the Sgt. Brandin Fredericksen.
One tape shows Sgt. Fredericksen in the police department’s booking room with Randolph Holmes, who had been accused of domestic violence and was intoxicated. While Holmes was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, the tape shows Fredericksn slamming him against a door.
“I was helpless,” Holmes told CBS 2 in an interview last year. “I was scared.”
Holmes attorney James Montgomery Jr., described the action in the second tape that begins with Fredericksen taking the still handcuffed Holmes to a car.
“Bam!” Montgomery said, “That’s where he cold cocks him and Randolph Holmes falls to the ground.”
Hospital records show Holmes suffered a concussion and broken nose. But Holmes was charged with aggravated assault for spitting on Fredericksen.
“He was thrown in jail for a year and prosecuted in an effort to cover up all of this excessive force,” Montgomery said of his client.
We obtained copies of documents and transcripts of testimony from the disciplinary hearings held by the Lynwood Police and Fire Commission and the excessive force lawsuit Montgomery filed in behalf of Holmes charging Fredericksen and the village. They suggest that a cover up apparently began the night Holmes was arrested.
Officer Kayvon Karimi who worked that night under Fredericksen’s supervision testified that the sergeant leaned over him as he wrote a report on Holmes’ arrest and said he better make it “sound good.” Karimi said he felt pressured by that to leave out any reference to the pushing and punching incidents. He later wrote a supplemental report revealing what happened.
The night of Holmes arrest Sgt. Frederickson also asked a dispatcher to show him the punching video over and over again. Then, according to a dispatcher’s memo, Fredericksen said in front of her and other officers on the shift that night, “I just want to make sure it looks like he tripped.”
“The tripping was the initial cover story he had come up with that night,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery now believes, “the cover-up went all the way to the top levels of the village of Lynwood Police Department.”
Karimi also testified that he asked Deputy Chief Terry Shubert to transfer him from Sgt. Fredricksen’s supervision because Sgt. Frederickson “was out of control.” He said Shubert responded, “I know and put his head down.”
“If you knew he was out of control, why wasn’t something done about Sgt. Frederickson much sooner?” Zekman asked Shubert.”
“I have no comment at this time,” Shubert responded
He denied there was an attempt to cover it up on his part.
But Michael Mears, police chief at the time, is now on a paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
“The village won’t tell us why that is but we do know there are a lot of questions about how he handled this altercation,” said the BGA’s Andrew Schroedter.
Mears says he does not know why he was put on administrative leave but thinks it was because he supported Fredericksen’s position that the use of force was justified.
Now the Lynwood Fire and Police Commission has discharged Fredericksen for reckless conduct, aggravated battery and official misconduct for “trying to cover up” his “pushing and punching” saying it was done “without justification.”
“We would not be sitting here,” Montgomery said, “if it were not for the Channel 2 investigation team…because without your persistence the tape would never have come to light.”
Fredericksen declined comment for this report. But during his disciplinary hearings Fredericksen said he was defending himself when he punched Holmes because Holmes tried to spit on him. He also said Holmes threatened to kill him and his family.
Criminal charges against Holmes were dismissed and his lawsuit was recently settled by the village for $500,000.
A spokeswoman for the Cook County States Attorney’s office says they are still investigating whether criminal charges should be brought against Fredericksen.