Chicago

Chicago cop who pulled woman by her hair and knelt on her neck falsely claimed someone in her car was armed with hammer, oversight agency finds

A Chicago police officer accused of dragging a woman by her hair out of a car and kneeling on her neck falsely claimed that someone in the car had just looted a store and was armed with a hammer, according to a civilian oversight agency.

“Officer (David) Laskus fabricated the existence of the hammer to justify his actions,” the Civilian Office of Police Accountability states in a 22-page report released Thursday about the confrontation in the parking lot of Brickyard Mall on May 31, 2020.

Laskus also denied to COPA investigators that he pulled Mia Wright out of the car and threw her to the pavement, despite video from cellphones and officers’ body cameras.

“Body worn camera footage clearly shows … Officer Laskus, who grabbed (Wright) by the end of her braided hair and pulled her to the ground,” the report states.

COPA recommended that Laskus been fired, something Chicago police Supt. David Brown said last week he is already seeking.

Laskus’ fate is now in the hands of the Chicago Police Board, which will hear evidence on the matter in the coming weeks in a hearing that will resemble a trial.

The confrontation occurred during a tumultuous weekend that saw demonstrations and looting that started downtown and spread to Chicago neighborhoods. The protests were sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Wright was in a car with several family members when police, for no apparent reason, began to smash the windows of the vehicle with batons and order everyone out. Laskus grabbed Wright’s hair and yanked her from the car.

While Wright was on the ground, he knelt on her back and neck.Wright, who got a piece of glass in her eye from the shattered window, was held overnight at a nearby police station.

The city settled a lawsuit brought by Wright and others with her that day for $1.67 million.

Wright said the violent actions by police left her blind in her right eye, potentially ending her dream of becoming a paramedic.The family has said they were puzzled why police targeted their car.

Wright and her family members said they were trying to exit the mall parking lot after finding out the Target store where they wanted to shop was closed.

But Laskus claimed someone in the car had been holding a hammer and attempting to loot a Champs Sporting Goods store.

COPA also recommended the dismissal of a second officer at the scene for yelling “racist, sexist and derogatory” insults.

“COPA has grave concerns with Officer (Patrick) Dwyer’s misconduct given the racist, sexist, and derogatory nature of his remarks, as well as his decision to use them during a volatile situation while taking enforcement action,” the report states.

Dwyer has since retired from the force, but COPA asked that a record of his actions be placed in his personnel file “for consideration in the event he applies for re-employment with the city. “




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