In a case of police brutality, the City Council of Chicago will pay a $525,000 settlement to the family of an autistic boy. Oscar Guzman, a minor, was chased and clubbed by police in a case of mistaken identity. The family sued the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police officers for the physical and mental anguish Oscar sustained.
In 2009, Oscar was watching pigeons in front of his family’s Little Village restaurant when two police officers approached him. According to the police, Oscar matched the description of a suspect they were looking for. When he was unable to answer questions and retreated into the family’s restaurant, the police officers chased him. According to one of the officers, Oscar reached towards his wristband and he walked away, which led them to suspect that he had a gun.
Inside the restaurant, Oscar’s parents tried to explain that Oscar had special needs, that he was autistic, and pleaded with the officers to leave him alone. The officers pushed Oscar’s father out of the way and ignored Oscar’s cries that he was “a special boy.” Oscar was hit on the head with a retractable club and sustained a four-centimeter laceration to his head. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance and received stitches.
One of the officers attempted to explain away his actions by stating that he had not meant to hit Oscar in the head. He had meant to strike Oscar in the arm or shoulder, but “inadvertently” struck Oscar in the head after Guzman pushed him. The reason given for why Oscar was being beaten in the first place was that the autistic boy was refusing to cooperate with the police.
According to the family, Oscar’s scars are not just physical. He continues to have night terrors and is on edge around any police officers. And while the events occurred in April 2009, it took almost two years to reach a settlement with the City of Chicago. Oscar’s story is just one of many cases of police brutality that are plaguing the city.
And considering the blatant abuse in Oscar’s case given his status as a disabled youth, one would assume that the police department would have been eager to smooth over the officers’ mistakes. However, it seems that the department’s immediate response was to stand by their officers and continue the abuse of the Guzman’s rights.
After Oscar was beaten, the family called 911 and a sergeant was dispatched to the scene. However, he not only refused to answer the family’s questions, but threatened to arrest Oscar’s older sister. Nubia Guzman had been questioning the officers’ actions, which seems understandable given the circumstances. However, rather than calling attention to the wrongness of the officers’ actions, her protests only succeeded in getting her handcuffed.
In all instances, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) seems to have handled the situation poorly. Given the Guzman’s questionable history with the CPD, it is understandable that they would question how seriously their complaints against the two officers are being taken. Those complaints are being handled internally by the Independent Police Review Authority, the details of which have not yet been released. So while the City of Chicago has been forced to pay for the police officers’ brutality, it remains to be seen what sort of penalty the police officers themselves will be paying.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handing Illinois personal injury matters for individuals and families for more than 35 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Chicago’s Calumet Heights, Melrose Park, Alsip, and South Holland.
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