The Chicago police officer seen struggling with a Black woman walking her dog along the city’s lakefront was placed on administrative leave on Monday, pending an investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. The move comes as more details about the officer’s pattern of misconduct emerge.
COPA recommended the officer either be placed on administrative leave or relieve him of police powers as the investigation continues.
Although the identity of the officer has not been publicly revealed, a local media outlet has uncovered details about his disciplinary record. TV station CBS Chicago, citing sources inside the CPD, reports he is a member of Chicago Police Department Traffic Unit, and assigned to the north portion of DuSable Lake Shore Drive. His responsibilities include enforcing DUI and speed limit laws, and it is unknown why he would have been at North Avenue Beach during Saturday’s incident.
That station says records show the office has faced 24 misconduct allegations since joining the force in 1998 and that three were sustained, resulting in discipline. The most serious incident involved an off-duty incident in Tennessee in which the officer was suspended for 20 days and arrested on aggravated assault charges after pointing a gun at a victim and subjecting them to verbal abuse.
The footage of the recent incident was captured Saturday morning at North Avenue Beach, and shows a woman identified as Nikkita Brown by her attorney Keenan Saulter, walking her dog. Saulter said Brown was walking out of Lincoln Park when the confrontation began after the officer asked her to leave because the beach was closed. Brown was walking her dog at around midnight after the beach closed at 11 p.m.
Footage taken by a civilian of the encounter was shared widely on social media. The officer is seen following Brown before the two exchange words inaudible in the video and engage in a physical struggle after Brown pulled out her phone to begin recording. Brown can be heard screaming as the officer grabs her. After about two minutes pass and after Brown’s phone fell to the ground, the two walked away from each other.
Brown and her attorney Keenan Saulter say she was a victim of racial profiling and that other people walking on the beach, who were white, were not confronted by police.
Saulter said Monday, “This is an issue about that officer, that officer’s temperament, and that as an officer, they should not be policing the streets in Chicago.” Protesters have also called for the officer to be fired.
COPA obtained body camera footage of the incident and is requesting additional security footage.
“We are committed to a fair, timely and objective investigation to determine if the actions of the involved officer are in accordance with Department Policy and Training,” COPA Interim Chief Andrea Kersten said in a news release. “We have a responsibility to investigate allegations of police misconduct and determine if they are well founded based on the facts and evidence of each case. If violations did occur, COPA will hold the officer accountable.”
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said at a Monday press conference that he has only received a partial account of what happened that night. We don’t have the person’s full accounting of what happened, why it happened, what was said,” Brown said. “Nor do we have the full accounting of the officer’s statement.”