University employee sues city for police abuse

University employee sues city for police abuse
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January 1, 2002

A Chicago police sergeant last August threatened a 20-year old University of Chicago employee at gunpoint, rammed his head into a police car, choked and continued to beat him after he was placed in handcuffs, according to recently filed federal civil rights lawsuit.

Filed by the university's Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, the suit police used unnecessary force in the 2001 arrest of U. of C. Hospitals employee Peter Vargas. Named as a defendants are 4th District Police Sgt. David Blyskal and the City of Chicago.

The lawsuit charges on August 3, 2001, Sgt. Blyskal physically abused Vargas, violating his constitutional right to be free from excessive and unreasonable force. Upon encountering Vargas, who was seen relieving himself in an alley in the city's Far South East Side, Blyskal waved his gun at him and ordered him over to the squad car, according to Shana Wallace, a U. of C. law student assisting in the prosecution.

When Vargas asked the sergeant why he had his gun drawn, Blyskal slammed the door of the squad car into his mid-section, rammed his head into the car and placed him in a choke hold, the suit charges. Blyskal then handcuffed Vargas and continued to beat him inside the police car, at one point slamming his head into a plexi-glass partition, according to the suit.

"Blyskal took Peter's question about Blyskal's drawing of his gun as an affront to his authority, an act of aggression," said Mandel attorney Craig Futterman, who has filed suit in several other police abuse cases now pending in U.S. District Court. "Blyskal's insecurity about his perceived challenge to his power translated into a frightening display of violence, leaving a young man of no more than 140 pounds badly beaten and in fear. This is police brutality. Simple and plain."

Police do not comment on pending litigation, according to a department spokesman.

Faculty: 
Craig B. Futterman