A leading official within Chicago’s law enforcement infrastructure is calling for one officer accused of violating the city’s police code of conduct to be fired. Video allegedly shows the white cop, during 2020’s summer of unrest, verbally assaulting and dragging a Black woman by her hair before arresting her for looting and proving his use of excessive force.
In June, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown filed disciplinary charges with the Chicago Police Board against Officer David Laskus for his participation in an excessive force case against a civilian. Laskus is accused of dragging Mia Wright by her hair out of a car and kneeling on her neck on Sunday, May 31, 2020, around 3 p.m. near the Brickyard Mall, 2600 N. Narragansett Ave.
Records show Laskus is accused of violating various rules set by the Chicago Police Department regarding engaging citizens. Some of these rules are disobedience of an order, engaging in any unjustified verbal or physical altercation with any person, excessive force, making a false report of maltreatment of any person, and unnecessary use or display of a weapon.
Laskus was investigated by an internal committee, and during the investigation, he and another officer were relieved of their duties as the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) assessed their actions. Based on the COPA’s findings, Brown has suggested the board fire Laskus.
According to court records, Laskus engaged in an “unjustified verbal or physical altercation,” and used “unreasonable force” when he sought to detain Wright and dragged her by her hair on the ground and pressed his knee into her neck, in a similar fashion as former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd — the man whose case was at the center of the unrest Laskus was patrolling.
Wright and several members of her family say they wanted to go shopping at a local mall’s Target store to buy items for a birthday party but had not realized it was closed due to the social upheaval caused by Floyd’s death. They were impeded while trying to exit the mall parking lot by the officers.
City lawyer Caroline Fronczak said Laskus, and other officers believed the group was trying to break into the mall to loot but noted the group did not fit the description of the looters they were looking for.
Reports state Laskus also destroyed Wright’s property, taking his baton and smashing her car’s window while she and her group were in the car. He then ordered them out of the car.
When Wright did not move fast enough, the officer grabbed the woman by her bun hairstyle and pulled her from the car, ABC 7 reports.
The altercation was captured on cellphone video by a relative with her and used as evidence against the officer.
The records stated Laskus had no probable cause to zero in on Wright that day, detention that resulted in him arresting her on disorderly conduct charges, after which she was wrongfully held overnight at a nearby police station. Since her arrest, those charges have been dropped.
As a result of the conflict, Wright suffered a cut in her eye from a piece of glass that slipped in after the shattered window, leaving her blind in her right eye, potentially ending her hopes of one day becoming a paramedic.
Wright and four others who were present during the assault filed a federal lawsuit with the city in 2020, claiming they were victims of police brutality based on Laskus’ alleged use of excessive force. In March of 2022, Chicago’s City Council authorized $1,675,000 of taxpayer dollars to be awarded to the five in a case settlement.
The lawsuit stated, “During this attack, Mia Wright could not breathe and was in paralyzing fear as her face and neck were smashed against the concrete ground.”