Teen recovering after video shows him beaten by cops
OAK LAWN, Ill. — A teen is recovering in the hospital after video shows him being pinned to the ground and beaten by Oak Lawn police officers.
The incident, which was recorded by a woman passing by, started after a traffic stop at 95th Street and McVicker Avenue around 6 p.m. Wednesday. Police said a teen got out of the car and fled down the street.
He was taken down by officers who threw several punches at the teen, later identified as 17-year-old Hadi Abuatellah.
“He’s still in high school, he’s entering his senior year, he’s a good quiet kid,” said Dena Natour, Abuatellah’s mother, Thursday. “[He] kept to himself. [He] works in a barber shop. He doesn’t cause any trouble, he was never involved in any type of crimes or anything.”
The woman who took the video, Myriah Deal, said she saw the teen run and started recording.
The video shows two officers holding down the boy and punching him in the face. A third cop then appears.
“Why are they beating him like this? It’s a little boy,” a woman is heard on the video saying.
At one point, the woman recording gets out of her vehicle to continue filming.
“This is a little kid,” she is heard saying. “I don’t know what the [expletive] happened.”
The woman adds that officers grabbed the teen and tackled him to the ground. Once they attacked him, one officer started kicking the boy and then the other grabbed his hair and started punching him in the face.
Oak Lawn police said they pulled a car over with the teenage boy inside Wednesday because officers smelled burnt cannabis and the car didn’t have a front registration. After they search the driver, Abuatellah runs off, with officers following.
**WARNING: The video may be disturbing to watch. Viewer discretion is advised.
Oak Lawn officers aren’t equipped with body cameras and the dash cam video doesn’t show the moment where an officer tackles the 17-year-old suspect to the ground. It does capture, however, the officers’ commands once the teen is pinned.
“Put your hands behind your back! Do it now. Presure point, pressure point,” Oak Lawn police said after a brief chase, the teen refused to listen to verbal commands, which then led to the physical confrontation with the two officers. Police said there on the pavement, the teen kept reaching for his bag and they feared a gun was inside.
Officers appear to handcuff the suspect after using a taser on him. The video then shows one officer reaching into the black bag and pulling out a gun.
“Once they feared there was a weapon in there, that turned into a deadly force incident, so had the offender drawn that weapon, he could have shot them,” said Oak Lawn Police Chief Daniel Vittorio. “What are they supposed to do, wait for him to pull it out?”
Vittorio said the gun had three rounds of ammunition inside and defended his officers’ actions.
Representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (C.A.I.R.) disagree and feel officers used an excessive amount of force.
“Our position is that regardless of whether the cops smelled weed or suspected a gun was in someone’s possession, I think our main issue here is that once he was subdued, that was the end of the arrest and there should not have been a continued beating,” said Emma Melton, staff attorney for C.A.I.R. Chicago, Friday.
The three officers seen on video have six, 12, and 15 years of service. One authority figure was identified as a field training officer. As of Friday evening, none of the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.
One of the officers was transported to a local hospital.
Abuatellah’s family shared photos of what he looked like before and after the incident. His mother said her son has internal bleeding, a broken nose and a fractured back. According to the family, the rising high school senior has been in and out of consciousness at Advocate Christ Medical Center.
An internal use of force review will be conducted on the arrest as the investigation continues.
“Hadi, like everyone else in this country, enjoys the presumption of innocence and until they prove that he had [a] weapon with him, we will go ahead and discuss it then,” said Zaid Abdullah, the family’s attorney, Thursday.
Police said they plan on charging the teen, but are waiting until he is released from the hospital so they can talk to him to determine charges.
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