The family of a 14-year-old boy is calling for criminal charges against an off-duty Chicago police officer that they say racially-profiled their son because he thought the teen had stolen a bicycle.
The incident occurred Friday evening in suburban Park Ridge, according to the family. In a video clip posted by Nicole Nieves, the teen’s mother, a man is seen pressing his knee against her son’s back outside of a Starbucks.
According to the video, the man, who identifies himself as a Chicago police officer, says that he suspected the teen of stealing his son’s bike.
“He’s taking my son’s bike,” the man says in the video.
The teen’s friends are also seen in the video trying to help him up, yelling at the officer that the boy was doing nothing wrong.
“No he’s not!” the teen’s friends yell back in the clip.
Nicole Nieves called the friends’ actions “brave and courageous,” and attorney Antonio Romanucci echoed those sentiments.
“If it was not for the boys, there’s no telling what may have happened,” he said.
Now, the teen’s family is asking for criminal charges to be filed against the officer, with Nicole Nieves arguing that it was a clear case of racial profiling.
“We see the bias of an off-duty cop taking advantage of a Brown boy with Afro-hair, smaller in stature, and choosing to take the law into his own hands with physical force,” she said. “A clear abuse of his position of authority, an authority meant to protect my son.”
Romanucci also blasted the officer’s actions, saying that he acted well outside of his authority in the incident.
“There is no doubt our client was racially profiled. Our client was the only person in the crowd who was of color,” he said. “A young man whom he thought was stealing a bike where he had no knowledge, no interviews, no evidence, no anything at all, but just took it upon himself to enforce the law in another jurisdiction.”
A Park Ridge police spokesman said that the officer identified himself to responding authorities at the scene following the incident. The family has since filed a criminal complaint with Park Ridge police, and there is a possibility of charges in the case, according to Chief Frank Kaminski.
“Yes, there is the potential of charges,” he said. “We have taken this very seriously, and I personally find the images in that video we got very disturbing.”
Chicago police say they are also investigating the incident.
Nicole Nieves says that the video shows the off-duty officer using excessive physical force, and emphasized that her son was not resisting even as his friends attempted to help him.
“What do we see? We see a scared, yet controlled, and eerily calm child underneath the force of a grown man pressing down on him excessively with physical force. A grown man who did not use his words before using violence,” she said.
She also criticized community members who may jump to conclusions while viewing the video.
“Many people will see the video and pass judgments. ‘He must have done something first, all teenage boys are trouble these days, he shouldn’t touch other peoples’ property,’ and on it goes,” she said.
As the investigation continues, and as the family considers litigation, the boy’s parents are concerned about the long-term effects that the incident may have on him.
“The very thought of what could have been worse is a lot to bear, but it was a very traumatic experience for all of us,” Nicole Nieves said.
“Right now, we’re concerned about his mental wellbeing and his emotional wellbeing as well,” Angel Nieves added.
Soruce : https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/family-calls-for-charges-after-they-say-off-duty-chicago-cop-pinned-teen-on-sidewalk-in-park-ridge/2875144/