CHICAGO (CBS) — DeKalb police have released video footage of officers arresting a man on drug and trespassing charges, after 25-year-old Elonte McDowell accused police of excessive force last month.
McDowell’s attorneys have said he was cooperating with police when officers pulled him over on Aug. 24, “when he was unjustifiably and unlawfully placed in a choke hold and tased.”
“What happened to our client, Elonte McDowell, was completely unlawful, unjustified, and we believe racially motivated. As a result, and in addition to the physical trauma, he has experienced flashbacks and nightmares on a frequent basis, and has heightened anxiety in the presence of law enforcement officials,” attorney Antonio Jeffrey stated in a news release.
DeKalb police have said they received a tip that McDowell was driving to DeKalb with a “load of drugs,” and after officers pulled over his Chevy Malibu, a K-9 unit detected drugs in the car, and McDowell tried to run away when police tried to place him in handcuffs.
“During this encounter, a Taser was deployed to gain McDowell’s compliance. Officers placed McDowell into handcuffs and called for an ambulance to check on him. McDowell refused medical treatment,” police stated in a Facebook post.
On Sunday, DeKalb police released dashcam video of the arrest, which appears to show McDowell holding his hands up as he stands next to a squad car, and asking “what am I being detained for,” before running off camera.
Another angle shows two officers tackling McDowell, who repeatedly shouts “I can’t breathe” before officers use a Taser on him.
McDowell’s girlfriend also can be seen on the video, recording the incident on cell phone video, and shouting at officers as they tased him.
“What the f*** are you doing that for? He’s in a f***ing choke hold, and you just tased him? For what?” she said.
After McDowell was on the ground, his girlfriend asked police to check his pulse.
“He has a pulse, right? Like, you guys can make sure that he has a pulse, because look at his face,” she said.
Cell phone video from the incident shows one officer on the ground, his arms around McDowell’s neck and shoulders as McDowell shouts, “record this, babe.”
Afterward, on police video, one officer can be heard telling another he did not put McDowell in a choke hold.
“By the way, I did not have my arm reaching across his throat,” he said.
“No, I was climbing around him like a spider monkey, trying to get on the other side, and he locked his arm underneath,” the other officer said.
Dashcam video shows McDowell lying on the ground for about five minutes as police wait for an ambulance, before the officers help him to his feet and walk him off screen.
Police said McDowell refused medical treatment when paramedics arrived, and he was later booked on charges for drug possession, trespassing, and resisting an officer.
DeKalb police said five dashboard cameras were recording the incident – four DeKalb Police Department vehicles and one DeKalb County Sheriff’s vehicle.
Illinois State Police were investigating the incident.
McDowell’s attorneys have said they requested all evidence in the case as they also investigate, and prepare a possible lawsuit.