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Cook County state’s attorney’s office says it will review allegations that Chicago cops pulled woman from car by her hair and placed knee on her neck

Thursday, June 04, 2020
Chicago Tribune
by Greg Pratt David Jackson

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office said Thursday it is reviewing allegations that Chicago police pulled a woman from a car by her hair and placed a knee on her neck.

“We are aware of the incident that occurred at Brickyard Mall and are currently conducting a thorough, independent review of the matter, including the conduct of the police officers involved,” the office said. “We take law enforcement accountability seriously and have reached out to the family involved through their attorney.”

The statement came hours after the attorney for the woman, Mia Wright, demanded a criminal investigation into the incident last Sunday.

“I didn’t do anything,” Wright, 25, insisted at a news conference in the parking lot of the mall, where she said the officers surrounded her car, broke the windows with clubs and pulled her to the ground on Sunday.

“I was trying to get out with my hands up. They continue to break the window, and before you know it I was being pulled out of the vehicle, pulled by my hair,” Wright said, crying. “The officer grabbed me. I had my hair tied in a bun. He grabbed me by the top of my bun and pulled me out of the vehicle. And that is when they threw me on the ground, and he proceeded to put his knee in my neck.”The use of kneeling to restrain someone in police custody has been under scrutiny nationwide since George Floyd died after being restrained in that fashion by an officer in Minneapolis.

“All I thought about was George Floyd, and it could have been another situation like that,” Wright said. “I have anxiety now. I can’t sleep. I had to go to a doctor. I had to go to the emergency room.”

Wright was charged with disorderly conduct and released on Monday, according to police and the family. Her attorney, Nenye Uche, asked that those charges be dropped.

Wright said she and four others in the car had gone to the mall not realizing it had been closed because of looting. A video of part of the incident was taken by family friend James Smith, 40, who was driving in a second car. It shows the car being suddenly surrounded by police. Officers broke at least three of the car’s windows with batons, according to the video, before pulling Wright and others out.

“If any wrongdoing is discovered, officers will be held accountable,” she added in another tweet.

At a Thursday news conference, Lightfoot said COPA “is doing everything it can to identify the officers, and then make an appropriate recommendation.”

Lightfoot said it isn’t easy to identify officers in the “grainy video,” but once they’re identified, they’ll be reported to the superintendent.

Asked if the officers should remain on the street during the investigation, she replied, "I don’t want to get ahead and I’m not the head of COPA. I’m the mayor and I want COPA to be doing its job, but doing it independently.

"They have to call balls and strikes," she said. “I mean, of course I have my own personal opinion about it, but I’m not going to share it because I don’t want to influence what COPA’s work is, they’ve got to, they have the jurisdiction and the mandate, and more importantly they have my full support to do their job, independently.”

 
 


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