Nearly two and a half years after a major altercation between Chicago police and protesters, the city has settled a federal lawsuit and the Chicago Police Department is implementing disciplinary measures.
According to a newly released investigation report by COPA, the department’s civilian oversight agency, some Chicago police officers abused their authority during the civil unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd. Some officers received suspension notices of up to six months’ duration.
Some CPD officers were observed striking Gabriel Chinchilla and John Fix with batons after 8 p.m. on May 31, 2020. At the time, they were both Columbia College students protesting police brutality.
Gabriel Chinchilla told the I-Team in May of 2021, “One of them grabbed me and threw me up against the wall, he hit me across the head with a baton, and he threw me to the streets where a couple other police officers were basically waiting for me to start wailing away with their batons.”
They recently won settlements after suing the city in court. $200,000 for Fix and $150,000 for Chinchilla.
The attorney for Chinchilla and Fix, Jonathan Brayman, stated, “We wanted the city to be held accountable, and in particular, the officers involved who were the worst offenders.” “Therefore, we assisted the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We worked together with COPA. We cooperated with the State’s Attorney’s Office and provided detailed videotaped statements regarding the incident. I believe the FBI took a keen interest in the case after viewing the videos.”
After more than two years, no charges have been filed. CPD has issued suspension notices to five officers directly involved in the Chinchlla and Fix cases, including Evidence Technician Richard Bankus and Officer Reginald Foster, who have been suspended for 180 days. While COPA investigated the incident, a police officer resigned.
Brayman stated, “There were a few individuals whose conduct was so unacceptable that they should have been expelled from the department.”
Seven other officers who participated in the police response to the May 2020 protest received suspension notices for reasons including excessive force, improper detentions, failure to activate body-worn cameras, failure to report or intervene in misconduct, and failure to file required documentation. A deputy chief retired prior to being interviewed by COPA regarding his involvement.
“Several of these officers received severe punishments, including suspensions of up to six months. That is a very lengthy period. This is a rare occurrence, and it is even rarer when there is no disagreement on this point between COPA and CPD. In a few of these instances, we observed that there was no disagreement regarding these lengthy sentences. Therefore, it highlights the severity of the conduct in those few cases ” said legal analyst Gil Soffer.
“It does demonstrate a degree of accountability that the city, in both the civil and criminal cases, agreed that judgment would be entered against the city of Chicago and that the plaintiffs would be compensated for their treatment at the hands of those officers,” said Brayman.
CPD and COPA disregarded our requests for interviews on camera. We reached out to the involved officers but did not receive a response. A CPD spokesperson informed the I-Team via email that the officers involved in the excessive force case against the two former Columbia College students are appealing their suspensions.
Leave a Reply