‘His eyes enlarged’: Chicago cops accused of violently arresting man for looking shocked to see them

‘His eyes enlarged’: Chicago cops accused of violently arresting man for looking shocked to see them

Newly released police video shows a Black Chicago officer grabbing the neck of another Black man, slamming him against a brick wall, and forcing him onto the pavement, allegedly for looking shocked to see officers. That’s right. Officers claimed in an incident report ABC 7 Chicago obtained that they approached Leroy Kennedy IV on Aug. 23, 2020, in Humboldt Park on Chicago’s westside solely because when he looked in their direction his body stiffened and “his eyes enlarged,” leading to “a shocked look on his face.”

Kennedy ended up in jail for about four days and faced multiple counts of aggravated battery, all of which were later dismissed, his attorney Christopher Smith said in a federal lawsuit against the city of Chicago and its police force. “As a result of the false arrest, illegal search, excessive force, and malicious prosecution,” Smith said in the suit, Kennedy “suffered damages, including but not limited to pain and suffering, and emotional injuries.” He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Kennedy told ABC 7 the incident left him “feeling traumatized.” “Man, I ain’t gonna lie. You get nervous,” he said. “You get even more nervous once you see the police.”

Also named in his civil suit filed on February 17 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois are officers Jonathan Ridgner and Nicholas Abramson, whom are shown manhandling Kennedy in the police video. Smith said in the lawsuit that Kennedy was “minding his own business on the sidewalk” at about 5:45 PM when Ridgner ran up behind Kennedy and slammed him into a brick wall. “I told him like ‘Sir, I’m not resisting. I just want to get my glasses,’” Kennedy told ABC 7. “He slammed me again thinking I’m resisting.”

What was the reason behind this violent and VICIOUS arrest of Leroy Kennedy?! The bodycam video shows the kind of vile, inhumane treatment that has left him SEVERELY traumatized. All because he had “a shocked look on his face”! These officers must be held accountable! pic.twitter.com/3p77avhXGv

— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) February 19, 2021

At one point in the encounter, witnesses approached the officers about their actions and started filming. “Defendant Abramson can be heard screaming obscenities back at the crowd and threatening that ‘someone is going to catch a body,’” Smith said in the lawsuit. The officers also searched Kennedy, “found nothing,” but handcuffed him anyway,” according to the suit.

“Defendants conspired amongst each other about what to do,” Smith said in the suit. “In an illegal effort to justify their frightening attack on Mr. Kennedy, the Defendant Officers created false reports that claimed Mr. Kennedy committed multiple felony batteries against them. … Defendant Officers had no lawful basis to stop Mr. Kennedy at all.”

Preying on Black and brown residents of the city’s neighborhoods is a common practice of Chicago police officers, Smith alleged in the complaint. “The justifications used by officers for vigilante style violence and lawlessness, [for example in this case, that Plaintiff’s eyes grew big] play on bigoted stereotypes and would be totally unacceptable in Chicago’s more affluent and whiter communities,” Smith said in the suit. He later added that the “casual contempt” the Chicago Police Department has “for minorities and witnesses, especially Black men, can be seen repeatedly on body camera footage that officers know is being recorded.”

“For example, in the recent case of Armani Russell v. City of Chicago et. al, a supervisor is recorded giving officers arriving on the scene orders to grab everyone. In that case, another officer repeatedly calls a Black bystander “boy”.

31. In Gibson v. City of Chicago, et. al, the defendant officer brutally attacks the plaintiff on camera for attempting to squirm out of the police car, and punches a bystander/witness in the face for objecting to the beating. Officers can be heard mocking bystanders, challenging one witness to “whip it out.”

32. In Elam v. City of Chicago, the defendants shot a young man three times in the back, which killed him. The shooter’s body camera was not turned on. The defendants hid the details of the car chase, and the nature of the shooting. On video, the defendants and other officers did not treat civilians in the area like potential witnesses and told them to go away after the shooting. On video, the officers franticly searched the young man for a weapon instead of calling for an ambulance—while the young man was still alive.”

Smith went on to say that Chicago police officers treat “the citizens of the South and West sides of the City as though they do not have civil rights.” The Chicago Police Department said in an emailed statement to Daily Kos on Thursday that it does not “comment on pending or proposed litigation.” 

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