A Black man accused of stealing an IV machine he was still connected to outside an Illinois hospital has filed a civil suit against the hospital.
An attorney for Shaquille Dukes named the city of Freeport and four of its police officers in the suit following an incident June 9 outside of FHN Memorial Hospital, according to CBS affiliate WIFR-LD.
Jill McKenna, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said in a statement to Atlanta Black Star Friday that the hospital has “cooperated fully” with the Freemont Police Department’s investigation of the incident but that privacy laws prevent the hospital from freely sharing patient information without consent.
“However, FHN does confirm that for a patient’s safety FHN’s standard protocol does not permit admitted inpatients to leave the hospital or hospital grounds while under care,” McKenna said. “Our security officers, as well as hospital staff, are well acquainted with this protocol.”
McKenna added: “FHN takes all issues raised by patients, staff, and visitors very seriously and is committed to respect, dignity, and compassion for all of the families we care for in our community. We will continue to work as transparently as possible, given our legal boundaries, towards the resolution of any alleged concern.”
The hospital is about 115 miles west of Chicago in a city that is more than 75 percent white, according to U.S. Census data.
“This is truly one of the most racist cities in America,” Dukes said in a Facebook post he wrote about his encounter.
He went on to explain in the post that he was admitted to the hospital for double pneumonia and asthma-related issues but that a doctor told him to walk around a bit on hospital grounds.
So he walked in the area with his brother just after 4 p.m, Dukes said.
“I was stopped by an overzealous, racist, security officer, who claimed that I ‘was trying to leave the hospital to sell the IV equipment on eBay,’” Dukes said in the Facebook post.
After a brief conversation, the guard called the police and Sgt. Jeff Zalaznik arrived, Dukes said.
“My brother was arrested, and then me,” Duke said. “Under the direction of Sgt. Zalaznik, officers stood by and watched while my IV was removed on the sidewalk, and it was NOT by a doctor.”
“I told the Sgt I was being treated for pneumonia and asthma, and his words were ‘I don’t care why you’re here, you’re going to jail,'” Dukes said.
He added that officers took his rescue inhaler and began to transport him to city lockup.
“While in transit I began to have a seizure, and subsequently am asthma attack,” Dukes said. “I pleaded with officers for almost 4 minutes to retrieve my inhaler from the transporting officer, and finally, when I became unresponsive, it miraculously appeared.”
Freeport police Lt. Andrew Schroeder rebutted Dukes’ version to a reporter and said officers got Dukes medical attention when they noticed he needed it.
“An ambulance was summoned for him and he was taken back to the hospital,” Schroeder told the Journal Standard.
Schroeder later told the Journal Standard that a police investigation revealed Dukes had no intention of stealing the IV machine.
The Freeport mayor’s office and police department have not yet responded to Atlanta Black Star’s request for comment about the lawsuit.