Two Chicago police officers being investigated after alleged beating of teenager

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Two Chicago police officers are under investigation for allegedly beating up a teen boy they arrested earlier this year on the South Side, according to records obtained by the Tribune.

Two other officers also face allegations in the incident, including one accused of failing to report the “unjustified use of force,” the records state.

The confrontation between the 17-year-old and the officers occurred Jan. 10 at 65th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue in the city’s Woodlawn community, according to records of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which is investigating the case. The incident took place after the teen allegedly struck a police vehicle with a stolen car and pointed a gun at responding cops, according to court records.

One of the two officers accused of using excessive force on the teen allegedly hit him in the head or face, and pushed his head into a metal fence and into a sidewalk, according to the records obtained by the Tribune through an open records request. The other officer accused of excessive force was alleged to have punched the teen in his head or face “without justification,” the records show.

A third officer was accused of failing to intervene during the encounter and report the incident, the records show. A fourth was accused of failing to activate his body-worn camera.

The allegations state all the other officers also failed to properly activate their cameras, and the two accused of excessive force are also alleged to have conducted an improper vehicle pursuit of the teen, the records show.

The four officers have not been charged by the police department with disciplinary violations. The department said Tuesday, however, that the two officers accused of excessive force are assigned to a non-emergency call center and are relieved of their police powers, which means they’re not allowed to carry their badges or guns for work purposes for the time being.

According to a police report, officers patrolling in the area of Marquette Road and Cottage Grove learned about a stolen 2012 Chevrolet vehicle a little before noon on Jan. 10. Officers tracked down the vehicle at 65th and Drexel Avenue, meeting it with their car “front end to front end,” the report states.

The Chevrolet then rode around the officers’ squad car, heading east toward Kenwood Avenue, the report states. The car rode on a sidewalk while the squad car headed north on Kenwood on the street.

Police said the Chevrolet made a left turn from the sidewalk and struck the passenger’s side of the squad car.

The 17-year-old was arrested in the incident, and he faces several charges in Cook County Juvenile Court, all of which are pending. The Tribune is not naming him because he is a minor.

The teen was charged in the incident with stealing the Chevrolet, according to juvenile court records, and he’s charged with aggravated battery on allegations that he used a vehicle to strike the two officers who are accused of beating him.

The teen was also charged with aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a handgun, records show. It was unclear exactly when the gun allegedly was pointed at the officers.

The teen also was charged with resisting a peace officer and fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, the records show.

The teen had been sentenced to probation after being arrested on June 7, 2020, for illegally carrying a gun, according to court documents.

Sources familiar with the investigation said video footage of some or all of the alleged beating was captured on a nearby surveillance camera, a city-owned device that’s often affixed to a light pole.

But city agencies, including COPA and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, have refused to release the video, citing a provision in the state’s Juvenile Court Act that prohibits the release of such material through open records requests if an alleged victim depicted in video footage is under 18.

COPA spokesman Ephraim Eaddy, however, said the 17-year-old’s family would be able to obtain the video under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s new executive order that went into effect in March, allowing alleged victims of police abuse to review video evidence in their cases. But as of Tuesday morning, Eaddy said COPA has not received word of such a request.