A Chicago police officer is under fire after a Chicago family accused him of racial profiling and using excessive force on their 14-year-old loved one. A video of the incident has the boy’s mother outraged, believing her son’s civil rights have been violated.
Nicole Nieves says that right before the Fourth of July holiday weekend, on Friday, July 1, she received a call from her son, who she says was crying hysterically because an adult man had not only accused him of stealing but had him down on the ground in front of his friends and used his knee to pin him so he could not move.
She wrote, according to the Daily Beast, her son called her, “stumbling over his words through hysterical tears, saying, ‘Mom, please come pick me up,’ ”
The child was frightened by the man who identified himself as an off-duty police officer and said the teen stole his son’s bike.
Video captures the unidentified man outside of a suburban Park Ridge Starbucks saying, “He’s taking my son’s bike.”
Other teens chime in on the footage, trying to assure the man he is mistaken. One says, “No he’s not.”
But this did not stop the man from detaining and assaulting the youngster. This did not deter the boy’s friends, who appear to be white children. After the boy was lying face-down on the ground with the man over him, his buddies pleaded for the man to “Get off him.”
Eventually, the man yields the boy some comfort, and the teens scuffle to get the teen away from him.
In an interview with FOX 32, Nieves and her husband, Angel, spoke about what it was like to hear her son begging for the man to get off.
“We hear the broken tears and heartbreaking cries of our son saying get off me, please get off me,” Nieves says.
The mother has now hired a lawyer, Antonio Romanucci, to represent her son’s interest, and wants the law enforcement agencies to take action. The family wants criminal charges to be pursued and has filed a criminal complaint, according to the Park Ridge police chief Frank Kaminski.
When asked about the probability of action being taken against the officer, the chief said, “Yes, there is the potential of charges. We have taken this very seriously, and I personally find the images in that video we got very disturbing.”
The Chicago Police Department has said it also is investigating the officer and what seems to be a use of excessive force and profiling. The agency has started an internal investigation and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability also has weighed in and is in the early stages of investigating.
The lawyer shares what seems to have happened according to his client. After the man’s son’s bike was blocking the way, the teen was just moving it off the sidewalk so that he could pass through on his own bike.
“When he tried to move that unknown bike, he was approached by a man who behaved aggressively and pinned him to the ground on his stomach and put a knee in his back. The officer used excessive force on a child. He escalated a situation where no aggression was necessary at all,” said Romanucci.
At a press conference on Wednesday, July 6, Nieves says her son definitely was racially profiled and accused of being a criminal because of his skin color.
“We see the bias of an off-duty cop taking advantage of a Brown boy with Afro-hair, smaller in stature, and choosing to take the law into his own hands with physical force,” the mom explained. “A clear abuse of his position of authority, an authority meant to protect my son.”
She continued, “What do we see? We see a scared, yet controlled, and eerily calm child underneath the force of a grown man pressing down on him excessively with physical force. A grown man who did not use his words before using violence.”
“There is no doubt our client was racially profiled,” Romanucci added.
“Our client was the only person in the crowd who was of color,” he said. “A young man whom he thought was stealing a bike where he had no knowledge, no interviews, no evidence, no anything at all, but just took it upon himself to enforce the law in another jurisdiction.”
The boy’s mother also saluted the other teens who helped her son, calling them “brave and courageous,” NBC 5 reports.
In addition, Romanucci heralded the kids’ actions, saying their boldness and loyalty to their friend may have saved his life.
The attorney said, “If it was not for the boys, there’s no telling what may have happened.”
Even though the officer’s name has not been released, local law enforcement knows who the man is.
After the incident, he told other officers who responded to a call about the commotion and identified himself.
Nieves is now concerned that this altercation has left scars on her son, and that others will prematurely side with the officer based on the footage.
She said, “Many people will see the video and pass judgments. ‘He must have done something first, all teenage boys are trouble these days, he shouldn’t touch other peoples’ property,’ and on it goes. The very thought of what could have been worse is a lot to bear, but it was a very traumatic experience for all of us.”
She is not the only one concerned. So is the boy’s father, Angel Nieves. He echoed his wife and said, “Physically our son is okay. Right now, we’re concerned about his mental well-being and his emotional well-being as well.”