Opening statements begin in civil lawsuit against off-duty cops involved in bar brawl

May 7, 2012 3:27:53 PM PDT
Opening statements began Monday in a civil lawsuit against a group of Chicago police officers accused in a bar brawl six years ago while they were off-duty.

The incident at Jefferson Tap and Grille was captured on videotape. Three of the officers were acquitted of criminal charges three years ago.

The opening statements mark the beginning of the federal civil trial over this case of alleged police conduct and abuse caught on surveillance camera in 2006. The case involves four friends who were playing pool at the Jefferson Tap in the wee hours of the morning December 15, 2006. They contend that their game was abruptly ended by a group of off-duty cops who became ruffians and beat them up without provocation.

The surveillance video, which was the principal evidence in the previous criminal case against the cops and will be in the civil trial as well, has no accompanying audio, so the action on the tape will continue to be in dispute. The police say the four friends instigated the confrontation by using "fighting words" to repeatedly provoke the cops.

The three officers who were criminally charged were acquitted by a state court judge three years ago, but now comes the federal civil case which names 16 officers for alleged misconduct, abuse of police powers, and excessive force. The suit also includes the City of Chicago, which means that there are many lawyers, all of whom will wish to have their say.

These proceedings may take two to three weeks before the jury will be asked to render a decision.

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