A federal judge ruled Monday that a Chicago police employee used “brute force” when he dragged a handcuffed suspect out of his cell and down a police station hallway in a 2012 encounter that was captured on video and stirred protests last week over police brutality.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly also found that the employee’s supervisor failed to stop the abuse of Philip Coleman and that no evidence existed that police gave Coleman the chance to leave his lockup cell on his own after he was repeatedly shocked with a Taser.
Kennelly, who is presiding over the Coleman family’s civil rights lawsuit against the city, the police department and others, wrote in his ruling that it will be up to a jury to determine monetary damages against Keith Kirkland, a civilian detention aide, and Sgt. Tommy Walker, who is now retired.
“Kirkland chose to use brute force when it was no longer necessary,” Kennelly wrote in a strongly worded opinion. “Sgt. Walker conceded during his deposition that the officers could have stood Mr. Coleman up and told him to walk … It is undisputed that Sgt. Walker could have ordered Kirkland not to drag, or to stop dragging, Mr. Coleman and that he chose not to do so.”
Coleman, 38, died at a hospital after a fatal reaction to an antipsychotic drug. An autopsy, though, showed that he had suffered severe trauma, including more than 50 cuts and bruises on his body from the top of his head to his lower legs.
As City Hall last week released the video showing the confrontation with Coleman, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Coleman’s treatment was unacceptable. The Independent Police Review Authority, the civilian agency that investigates police use of force, also announced it was reopening its investigation into the matter, despite earlier having cleared Kirkland and Walker of any wrongdoing.