CHICAGO, Dec. 8 (UPI) — A new video shows Chicago police officers repeatedly using a Taser on a man and dragging him from his jail cell before he later died from treatment received in the hospital.
Philip Coleman, 38, had been arrested on Dec. 12, 2012, after assaulting his mother during what his family called a mental breakdown. Lena Coleman, 69, said she called the police but indicated she did not want to press charges.
Police apprehended Philip Coleman, who later died in custody after a reaction to an antipsychotic drug in the hospital. An autopsy showed he experienced severe trauma beforehand, with more than 50 bruises and scrapes across his head and body.
Late Monday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a prepared statement with the video, which shows six officers confronting Coleman in his cell before stunning him with a Taser, wrestling him to the ground and dragging him out in handcuffs.
“I do not see how the manner in which Mr. Coleman was physically treated could possibly be acceptable,” the Chicago Tribune quoted Emanuel as saying. “While the medical examiner ruled that Mr. Coleman died accidentally as a result of treatment he received in the hospital, it does not excuse the way he was treated when he was in custody. Something is wrong here — either the actions of the officers who dragged Mr. Coleman, or the policies of the department.”
The Chicago Tribune quoted police as saying Coleman had been “combative,” spitting blood in two officers’ faces during his arrest, and that he “again became combative” at the jail and at the Roseland Community Hospital, where “reasonable force was employed, including a Taser deployment, to gain control of the offender.”
Ed Fox, an attorney for the Coleman family, said a Taser had been used on Coleman more than a dozen times.
Coleman’s father, Percy, said his son — a University of Chicago political science graduate with a master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago — “wasn’t in his right mind or body” and that his mother called police for help, not to kill her son. He said the family pleaded for him to be taken to a hospital for treatment, but one of the officers said, “We don’t do hospitals, we do jail.”
The Independent Police Review Authority, a civilian agency tasked with investigating allegations of excessive police force, found the officers’ actions justified and closed its case in November 2014.
However, Emanuel and interim police Superintendent John Escalante said they consider the Coleman investigation an open case.
Percy Coleman, a career law enforcer, has filed a civil suit, saying the officers retaliated against his son because he spit on them.
Fox noted the IRPA waited two years to interview the officers and said some of them provided conflicting accounts of the incident when he questioned them in depositions.
“These officers were just having a good time,” the Chicago Tribune quoted Fox as saying. “They were laughing and joking, and you can see that in the video.”
Fox said a seven-figure settlement from the city of Chicago was rejected by the Coleman family, which is calling for changes in department policy regarding how officers deal with the mentally ill.
The video’s release came the same day Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the Justice Department was launching a civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s use of deadly force in the wake of the fatal shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014.
Officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with murder in McDonald’s death after the city released video of the teen being shot 16 times.