Chicago

Dozen CPD officers receive suspension notifications for May 2020 melee with protesters

CHICAGO (WLS) — Nearly two and a half years after a major scuffle between Chicago police and protesters, the city has settled a federal lawsuit and CPD is taking disciplinary action.

During the mayhem in Chicago after the murder of George Floyd, some Chicago cops abused their police powers during the unrest, according to a newly released investigation report by COPA, the department’s civilian oversight agency. A dozen officers received suspension notifications, some for as long as six months.

READ MORE: Federal lawsuits allege brutality against protesters by Chicago police

It was after 8 p.m. on May 31, 2020 when some CPD officers were seen smacking Gabriel Chinchilla and John Fix with their batons. At the time, they were both students at Columbia College, protesting against police brutality.

“One of them grabbed me and threw me up against the wall, he hit me across the head with a baton and he threw me to the streets where a couple other police officers were just sitting there waiting for me basically to start wailing away with their batons,” Gabriel Chinchilla told the I-Team in May of 2021.

They sued the city and recently won settlements. $150,000 for Chinchilla and $200,000 for Fix.

“We very early on wanted the city to be accountable, and more specifically, the officers that were involved, the worst offenders,” said Jonathan Brayman, attorney for Chinchilla and Fix. “So, we cooperated with the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We cooperated with COPA. We were cooperating with the State’s Attorney’s Office and gave full videotape statements about what had happened. I think the FBI was very interested in the case after they saw the videos.”

More than two years later, no criminal charges have been filed. CPD has given suspension notifications to five officers directly involved in the Chinchlla and Fix cases, including 180 day suspensions for Evidence Technician Richard Bankus and Officer Reginald Foster. One officer resigned while COPA was investigating the incident.

“There was a handful that I thought their conduct was so bad that they should have be separated from the department,” said Brayman.

Seven other officers who were part of the police response to the May 2020 protest also received suspension notifications for reasons including excessive force, improper detentions, not activating body worn cameras, failing to report or intervene in misconduct, and not filing required paperwork. A deputy chief retired before COPA could interview him about his involvement.

“A good number of these officers received substantial penalties, including some who had half-year-long suspensions. That’s a very long time. You don’t often see that and you particularly don’t often see it where there’s no disagreement on that point between COPA and CPD. And that’s what we saw here in a couple of these instances, there was no disagreement as to these lengthy sentences. So, it really underscores the severity of the conduct in those handful of cases,” said ABC 7 legal analyst Gil Soffer.

“It does show some level of accountability that the city, both in the civil case, agreeing that judgment would be enterrd against the city of Chicago, and that they would be compensated for their treatment at the hands of those officers,” said Brayman.

CPD and COPA ignored our requests for on camera interviews. We reached out to the officers involved but did not hear back. In an e-mail to the I-Team, a CPD spokesperson said the officers involved in the excessive force case against the two former Columbia College students are challenging their suspensions.

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