The Civilian Office of Police Accountability on Monday was investigating a viral video that appears to show a uniformed Chicago police officer grabbing and physically restraining a woman he apparently ordered to leave North Avenue Beach over the weekend.
A lawyer for the woman called the situation “an obvious case of racial profiling” and Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday said she was “quite disturbed” by the video, which appears to show “the woman was following the direction of the officer and leaving the beach.”
The lawyer, Keenan Saulter, identified the woman as Nikkita Brown and said she was leaving the beach as ordered when she asked the unmasked officer who was confronting her to stay 6 feet away from her because of her concerns about COVID-19.
Saulter said the officer “ignored this request and mocked it.”
On Monday, Chicago police Superintendent David Brown placed the officer on paid desk duty for at least 30 days while COPA continues its investigation, a police spokesman said. COPA had initially recommended either that course of action, or that Brown relieve the officer of his powers — a move that would have not only put him on paid desk duty, but it would have prohibited him from carrying a badge and a gun for work purposes.
“We are committed to a fair, timely and objective investigation to determine if the actions of the involved officer are in accordance with (Police) Department Policy and Training,” COPA’s interim chief administrator, Andrea Kersten, said in a statement. “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.”
In one of three videos obtained by Saulter’s law firm, which has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times online, Nikkita Brown is seen holding a dog’s leash a few feet from a police officer who has not been publicly identified. He begins walking toward her and she begins walking backward, away from him. The verbal exchange isn’t caught on the cellphone video but Brown can be heard screaming repeatedly, in apparent distress.
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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Jeremy Gorner, and Gregory Pratt