Chicago Police Release 2012 Video of Black Detainee's Fatal Encounter with Jail Guards
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Chicago Police Department came under fire once again after releasing yet another video showing the death of a black man in custody — one that took three years to finally emerge.
The long-buried footage of Philip Coleman’s fatal confrontation behind bars emerged Tuesday amidst continuing protests and probes over two videos showing the deadly police shootings last year of two black men.
The Coleman video, from December 2012, shows a group of guards waking up Coleman, 38, and surrounding him while he sits in a cell for assaulting his mother during an apparent psychotic episode, the New York Daily News reported.
After an apparent confrontation — which cannot be heard on the audio-free video — the six guards swarm Coleman on his cot and repeatedly shoot him with a Taser. The end of the clip shows guards dragging Coleman’s lifeless body by his arms down a hall.
Coleman later died in a hospital after a bad reaction to an antipsychotic drug doctors gave him, and his death was ruled an accident. But an autopsy revealed he also suffered severe trauma from the guard barrage, with more than 50 bruises and abrasions all over his body.
The guards shot Coleman with a Taser 13 times and beat him with batons, according to Coleman’s family lawyer. The alleged beating is not seen in the video.
Coleman’s death drew little attention when it happened, and the footage was not released. The guards later said they feared for their safety after Coleman attacked erratically. Police last year cleared them of any wrongdoing and ended an internal investigation.
But after the video’s sudden release, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel swiftly condemned the department.
“I do not see how the manner in which Mr. Coleman was physically treated could possibly be acceptable,” he said in a statement.
“While the Medical Examiner ruled that Mr. Coleman died accidentally as a result of treatment he received in the hospital, it does not excuse the way he was treated when he was in custody. Something is wrong here — either the actions of the officers who dragged Mr. Coleman, or the policies of the department.”
Emanuel did not announce specific actions for the case but implied a new investigation would begin.
The video appeared near the end of one of the police department’s most embattled days during an increasingly tense year. The Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation into the force, centered on newly released video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times last October.
Also on Monday, the department cleared Officer George Hernandez for the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Ronald Johnson, just eight days before McDonald’s death. That shooting, which was also caught on camera, sparked similar outcry to McDonald’s death.
The McDonald video led to a first-degree murder charge for Van Dyke, the firing of the city’s top cop and fierce protests in the streets of Chicago. Activists and relatives of the victims have accused Chicago cops of covering up for a pattern of racist, deadly tactics.