CHICAGO (CBS) — Two people who say they witnessed Chicago police dragging two women out of a car outside the Brickyard Mall last week claim officers attacked them when they began recording the incident.
Lazendra Collins and Willie Teague said they saw police officers using batons to smash the windows of a car in the Brickyard Mall parking lot on May 31, and drag Mia Wright and Tnika Tate out of the vehicle.
When Teague and Collins – the mother of his child – began filming the incident, they say officers started attacking them.
“What happened to us isn’t right. We weren’t asking for trouble. We didn’t go loot. We didn’t go protest. We just were going to get something to eat, and decided to document what was going on,”
Teague said he and two other men had driven to the mall to pick up Collins from work, and go get something to eat, when they saw police drag Wright and Tate out of their car.
“We were going to Popeye’s, but we could hear the commotion in the whole mall. It was like hell on Earth,” Teague said.
Collins and Teague said they were stuck in a line of cars trying to get out of the parking lot when Collins started using her phone to record what was happening to Wright and Tate.
“We weren’t asking for trouble. We didn’t go loot. We didn’t go protest. We just were going to get something to eat, and decided to document what was going on,” Teague said.
Their attorneys, Shay Allen and Tamara Walker, said police had blocked most of the exits to the parking lot in an effort to contain looting, so Collins and Teague couldn’t leave when officers told them to.
“As we’re leaving in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and the officers are yelling to ‘Go, get out of here!’ there’s nowhere for me to go,” Teague said.
Teague said that’s when officers came up to his Jeep; one officer struck the rear body of the vehicle, and another smashed the rear windshield.
When Teague and Collins got out of the Jeep to ask for the officers’ badge numbers, and demand to know why police had damaged the vehicle, they said that’s when police attacked Collins, hitting her hands with a baton.
“Out of nowhere, they just had anger, just anger, and they just kept hitting. No one did anything, we just kept asking for a badge number, or a sergeant, or somebody to come over and help us and tell us why would you break our window?” Collins said. “We deserve better. We’re human, just like they are. They make mistakes, just like we do, but this was uncalled for; to hit somebody who did nothing but film.”
Walker said the officer who struck Collins with his baton had no name plate on his vest, and had covered his badge number.
“The officers struck her several times in her hands. At least three to five times, she was struck with a police baton,” Walker said. “It appears that her injuries may be permanent.”
Walker and Allen – who also represent Wright and Tate – have called for a criminal investigation of the incident at the mall. A police spokeswoman confirmed a complaint was filed in connection with the altercation.
“These vigilante actions by police officers must stop; and I understand that tensions were high, the looting had been happening. However, these people were in their vehicle. They were not doing anything, other than waiting to leave,” Walker said.
The attorneys plan to file a lawsuit against the officers once they find out their names and badge numbers.
“This was a vicious attack, and you would think in the environment that we’re looking at internationally, that officers would be focused on fostering an environment of peace, and brokering understanding with the community; and instead, these were unprovoked, vicious attacks, and they must be addressed,” Walker said.
Wright and Tate have said their family pulled into the parking lot at the mall on May 31, only to realize things were closed and out of control amid widespread looting. They said that’s when officers surrounded their car, smashed the windows, dragged them out, and forced them to the ground.
Wright has said police pulled her out of the car by her hair, and then one officer pressed his knee against her neck while she was on the ground.
“I just felt like an animal. I felt like I wasn’t nothing, like I was not even a human being at that moment,” Wright said last week.
Officers did confiscate the car, but it was later released and seriously damaged. The family insisted they were never given an explanation, nor an apology.
Wright did have some glass in her eye, but emotional scars she said will outweigh the physical pain.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said the city is working to talk to all officers involved.
“It’s not an easy thing to identify officers in a grainy video where people are moving quickly,” she said last week.