CHICAGO (CBS) — Police Supt. David Brown has placed a Chicago Police officer on administrative duties for the duration of an investigation, after he was seen in a new-viral video confronting a woman walking her dog at the North Avenue Beach.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability had advised that Brown should either place the officer on administrative duties or relieve him of his police powers.READ MORE: No Communication With Firefighters Before Baby Was Found Dead Outside Fire Station; Could Baby Boxes Be A Last-Resort Option In Cases Like This?
COPA is investigating, and said it has obtained the body cam video from the incident and is requesting video from several additional cameras in the area.
“We are committed to a fair, timely and objective investigation to determine if the actions of the involved officer are in accordance with Department Policy and Training,” COPA Interim Chief Andrea Kersten said in a news release. “We have a responsibility to investigate allegations of police misconduct and determine if they are well founded based on the facts and evidence of each case. If violations did occur, COPA will hold the officer accountable.”
Meanwhile, CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot spoke exclusively to a Chicago man who had a run-in with that same officer in the past.
Police sources said the officer is part of the Chicago Police Department Traffic Unit. The officer is assigned to the north portion of DuSable Lake Shore Drive.
His duties consist solely of DUI and speed limit enforcement, and it is not known why he would have been at North Avenue Beach and captured on the videos that went viral over the weekend.
In the videos, Nikkita Brown is seen walking her dog at North Avenue Beach. It was a few minutes after midnight Saturday morning, and the beach was closed to the public.
Brown was approached by a Chicago police officer. She started recording their interaction – the recording begins with the officer saying something about her going to jail.
Brown asks the officer to keep his distance, because of COVID-19.
Brown: “Respect my space. It’s COVID. Six feet.”
Officer: “I’m about to put handcuffs on you.”
The officer is heard saying he does not need a mask because he is outside.
What happens next is captured on cellphone video by two different people – one of them a city employee.
The officer starts to struggle with Brown – and at one point, he even takes her phone. Her dog is lifted into the air by his collar and leash.
“He knocks the phone out of her hand. He literally grabs her – and in such a way that he knocked her out of her shoes and her, you know – God bless her little dog for trying to protect her,” said attorney Keenan Saulter, who is representing Brown.
Police sources said the officer was trying to place Brown into custody – she was trespassing at the beach after hours, no dogs are allowed, and the dog had relieved itself at the beach. These are all municipal code violations.READ MORE: Man Shot Multiple Times, Killed In Auburn Gresham Drive-By Shooting
Sources say Brown swore at the officer, and then started recording.
“Even if she did use terse language with that officer, prior to anything we see on video, per the Chicago Police Department general orders, there is absolutely no cause – even if someone calls you a name or says a curse word to you – for you to grope or manhandle a woman, by herself,” Saulter said.
Records show the officer has been on the force since Sept. 28, 1998.
He has at least 24 misconduct allegations against him, three of which were sustained and resulted in discipline. Two of them were for neglect of duty, and one was quite serious – involving an off-duty incident that occurred in Tennessee.
According to the Invisible Institute, it was alleged that the officer displayed and pointed his weapon at a victim, failed to follow lawful orders by a police official, and verbally abused the victim. He was arrested on three counts of aggravated assault.
The officer agreed to a 20-day suspension after the allegations against him were sustained by the Independent Police Review Authority – the predecessor organization to COPA.
As Theodore Gomez watched the now-viral video of the officer and Brown, he said he knows the officer. He was pulled over by the officer in the past.
In 2016, Gomez, a licensed scrap metal worker, was stopped by the officer in an alley.
“He came back to my truck. He found a steak knife and an axe – like a hammer. (He said), ‘Those are weapons,’” Gomez said. “I said, ‘No, they’re my tools for work.’”
Gomez was arrested and held for five hours. This was even though Gomez showed the officer his scrap metal license.
“We don’t need these kinds of police officers,” Gomez said. “It’s a bad reputation for the good police officers.”
The charges against him were later dismissed. The city ended up paying him a $15,000 settlement.
“I’m Mexican. What he did? The lady is Black. It doesn’t matter the color. It doesn’t matter the race,” Gomez said. “We should be treated the same way. All of us!”
In addition to the COPA investigation, Supt. Brown said there is an internal police investigation under way.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted she is deeply concerned about what’s depicted in the video and she is aware of the incident.
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I am deeply concerned by what is depicted on the lakefront beach in that video.
I am aware of the incident and it is currently under investigation.
— Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) August 30, 2021
COPA says anyone who witnessed the incident or has more information or video is asked to go to chicagocopa.org or call (312) 746-3609.