Alleged police brutality victim denies provoking officer

April 19, 2011 8:48:49 PM PDT
A teenager repeatedly struck by a Chicago police sergeant who has been charged with two felonies denies doing anything to provoke the officer.

"I don't respect police now after that. That was a bad experience for me," Greg Jeffries told ABC7.

The 19-year-old says the incident was his most serious and most scarring run-in with police.

In October, officers responded to reports of teens causing trouble at a fast food restaurant at 79th and Vincennes. They cuffed Jeffries and some friends. Then a surveillance camera captured a police sergeant slapping the handcuffed 19-year-old several times. The hits were hard enough to knock Jeffries against a police car.

"I really couldn't do anything, I was in cuffs. He wasn't saying anything when he was hitting me. My reaction, I was just surprised. I was shocked," said Jeffries. "The other officers, they were just standing there like bystanders, like it was an everyday thing."

The sergeant, now identified as Ed Howard Jr., is charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct. Prosecutors say Jeffries did nothing to provoke the policeman. But Sergeant Howard's attorney said last week the hits were justified.

"If someone's attempting to spit on you, of course you have a right to defend yourself," said Robert Kuzas, Howard's attorney.

When asked if he threatened to spit on Howard, Jeffries said, "No, I was being respectful. There was no threat to spit, no cursing, none of that."

Jeffries has now slapped the sergeant and the Chicago Police Department with a federal lawsuit. He says the lawsuit was made possible by surveillance tape.

"No, without the video, I don't think it wouldn't have made it this far," said Jeffries. You don't think anyone would have believed you? No, not at all."

Interim Police Superintedent Terry Hillard said last week, "as supervisors, sergeants should set examples of character and conduct." He called failure to do so "inexcusable."

Jeffries was originally charged with trespassing at the fast food restaurant. That charge was later dropped.

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