Clinic Files Suit Against CPD

University law school clinic files suit against CPD
Todd Spivak
Hyde Park Herald
March 27, 2002

The Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Cinic of the University of Chicago Law School filed a federal civil rights lawsuit charging police abuses on behalf of an anti-police abuse worker at Stateway Gardens this week, a public housing development that runs along State Street from 35th to 39th Streets.

The lawsuit alleges that in a racially charged incident, six white male police officers falsely arrested the African-American employee, fabricated evidence and then maliciously prosecuted him because he attempted to document and criticize the officers conduct during an incident in which they struck another African-American pedestrian with their police car.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the lawsuit names as defendants six Special OPerations officers of the Chicago Police Department and the City of Chicago.

The lawsuit charges that on March 19, 2001 26-year old Kenya Richmond, who staffs the Stateway Civil Right Project - created last year to monitor police abuses at the development - was falsely arrested and racially abused by the six officers.

That afternoon, the six officers struck an African-American teenager with their police car outside the 3640 South State Street building where Richmond was working. Witnesses observed the police car "jump the curb" in an area where children were playing and struck a pedestrian, who was apparently fleeing police.

Richmond took out his notepad and began jotting down details of the incident for the Stateway Civil Rights Project.

"I didn't say anything different to the officers than what everyone else out there was saying," said Richmond this week. "I told them they should take the man they hit with their car to the hospital. I thought he was hurt."

According to the lawsuit, the officers responded by seizing Richmond, handcuffing him and placing him under arrest.They also confiscated his belongings and destroyed the notes he had taken regarding the incident, including the license plate number of the police car that struck the man. No one else from the crown was arrested.

On the way to the 2nd District police station, according tot he lawsuit, the officers directed racial slurs at Richmond and warned him to mind his own business and stay out of theirs.

After being released from police custody, the lawsuit charges that the officers filed false police reports that Richmond engaged in directing narcotics traffic at the time of the incident, fabricated evidence and initiated a criminal prosecution against Richmond. The criminal charges were dismissed a month later, when none of the police officers appeared in court.

The lawsuit charges that the officers' constitutional violations caused Richmond mental and emotional distress, humiliation, fear, anxiety and the loss of his freedom and property.

"I've known Mr. Richmond for well over a year, and I'll never forget the profound fear and powerlessness that overtook him, despite his fortitude and strong character, as we went together to court to answer the false criminal charges," said Richmond's attorney Craig Futterman. "If you could walk a mile in his shoes and understand all he has been through and risen above, you would know how much he hurt by being falsely labeled a criminal, not to mention the 'n' word, by the police."

The CPD has not yet commented on the suit, which is currently under review, according to Department of Law spokesman Jennifer Hoyle.

The Richmond lawsuit ,marks the second suit filed by the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic since it set up offices at Stateway to monitor police abuses against residents in 1999. Last April, the clinic filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city, Public Housing Unit Cmr. Ernest Brown and several other police officers and supervisors for what they called an illegal police raid of 250 Stateway residents during a late-night basketball tournament held at the development las February. Futterman said that the suit will likely got to trial this fall.

Craig B. Futterman