Prosecutors proceed with gun charges against Oak Lawn teen at center of violent arrest


OAK LAWN, Ill.  — Prosecutors are proceeding with weapons charges against Hadi Abuatelah, the teen seen battered on video by Oak Lawn police officers. His supporters are vowing to continue their fight for justice.

Muhammad Sankari, with the Arab American Action Network, says that the crime committed against Abuatelah is an offense that should be prosecuted.

Advocates reacted outside the Cook County Juvenile Center sounded off.

“We all know what we saw on the video,” said Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s Bishop Tavis Grant. “We all know what was reported by the Oak Lawn police themselves. This type of policing cannot be tolerated, cannot be accepted.”

Widely shared video shows Oak Lawn Police officers repeatedly punching 17-year-old Abuatelah while on the ground. The police chief and the village board defended the officers’ actions, saying the teen ran after officers pulled over a car due to the smell of marijuana and a missing front license plate.

The teen, resisting arrest, reached for his bag with a gun inside, police said.

Prosecutors filed several charges against the team after his hospital discharge.

On Thursday, a judge found probable cause and prosecutors will move forward with charges of felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful possession of a weapon by a minor.  

“The young man was on the ground, was detained and restrained and yet endured this form and brand of brutality,” Grant said.

Illinois State Police are investigating the use of force. The teen’s family is also suing the Oak Lawn Police Department. 

Activists call the case an example of racial profiling targeting the Arab American community. In the weeks since the violent arrest, advocates have held several protests. They want the officers involved fired and charged. 

“He has a lot of healing as a result of this beating and as a result of this brutality and that really exemplifies the reason why there needs to be someone held to account for this,” Sankari said.

The judge imposed a 10 p.m. curfew on Abuatelah. His next court date is Sept. 22.

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