Chicago officer on desk duty after struggle with Black woman

National

A Chicago police officer wears a blue and black band on her badge as she walks into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse to attend the bond hearings for two brothers charged after the fatal shooting of Chicago Police Officer Ella French, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021 in Chicago. French, 29, was fatally shot and her partner was critically wounded in West Englewood while in the line of duty Saturday. (Ashlee Rezin /Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

CHICAGO (AP) — A white Chicago police officer has been placed on administrative duty as the city’s police oversight agency investigates his struggle with a Black woman who was walking her dog in a lakefront park.

Police Superintendent David Brown on Monday directed that the officer be placed on paid desk duty while what happened over the weekend is investigated, the department said. Attorneys for the woman allege the encounter became violent and was an “obvious case of racial profiling.”

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, known as COPA, said Monday that it reviewed the officer’s body camera video and recommended that he either be placed on administrative duty or be relieved of his police power while it investigates.

“If violations did occur, COPA will hold the officer accountable,” interim chief Andrea Kersten said.

A law office representing Nikkita Brown said she was near the lakefront with her dog about 12:10 a.m. Saturday when a police officer approached her for being in the area after the park was closed.

In the two-minute-long video recorded by a bystander, the woman and her dog appear to be walking away from the officer as he follows closely, and at one point she turns around with her phone in her hand and stops.

Moments later, the officer appears to reach for her phone and then grabs Nikkita Brown, who can be heard yelling, “Let go!” as she struggles to break free.

Her attorneys accused the officer of “violently” attacking their client “for absolutely no reason.”

“He attempts to tackle her, all while groping her body as she screams for help,” the attorneys said in the statement. “This unprovoked attack lasts for approximately two minutes, during this time Ms. Brown’s phone is knocked from her hands and she is knocked out of her shoes.”

When she is finally free, she can be seen on video picking her phone off the ground before walking away with her dog. Her attorneys said she returned home, called 911 and filed a report with a sergeant.

They allege the encounter was racially motivated, noting there were several other individuals in the park that night, including a group of about four white people walking some distance behind her.

“This was an obvious case of racial profiling,” the attorneys said, adding that Nikkita Brown is suffering “emotional trauma” from the “brutal, unprovoked and unlawful attack.”

The Chicago Police Department had referred the matter to COPA.

“Apparently there was a closure of that area of the beach and then that precipitated the interaction. We don’t yet know what was done or said. All we know is this person was not arrested and yet the officer had, obviously you see the interaction on the video,” the police superintendent said at a news conference Monday.

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