$525,000 OK’d in cop abuse case
By: Hal Dardick, Chicago Tribune: January 17th, 2012
A City Council committee Tuesday recommended paying $525,000 to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of an autistic boy police allegedly chased and clubbed for no reason at his family’s Little Village restaurant.
If approved Wednesday by the full council, the money would be paid to the Guzman family to benefit Oscar Guzman, who was 16 at the time of the April 2009 incident, and his sister, Nubia, then a college student who allegedly was threatened with arrest for questioning the officers.
“I support the Police Department 175 percent, but I don’t like abuse,” said Ald. Ray Suarez, 31st, who suggested the payment to the family and their attorneys was not enough. “This is a clear, clear, clear case of abuse.”
Two police officers approached Guzman outside the restaurant, where he was watching pigeons, and then chased him inside after he walked away at the sight of the officers, according to the lawsuit and Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, chairman of the Finance Committee that endorsed the settlement.
Guzman’s parents told pursuing officers he had special needs, and Guzman declared himself “a special boy,” but one of the officers pushed the teen’s father out of the way and hit the boy in the head with a retractable club, according to the suit and Burke, who made clear his disapproval of the officers’ alleged actions.
Guzman sustained a small cut that was closed with staples at the hospital, Burke said.
Officers said they saw the teen reach toward his waistband as he fled into the restaurant, leaving them to believe he had a weapon, Burke added. They said one of the officers “inadvertently” hit Guzman with his retractable baton when Guzman pushed him in the chest, Burke said.
But complaints against the officers were sustained by the Independent Police Review Authority, said Leslie Darling, a top lawyer for the city.