Chicago police officers under investigation in Brickyard Mall incident; women describe being pulled from car and thrown to ground

Video shows Chicago police officers pulling two women from their car and throwing them to the pavement at the Brickyard Mall parking lot.

ByDiane Pathieu, Craig Wall, Chuck Goudie, and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Friday, June 5, 2020
COPA wants officers involved in Brickyard arrest reassigned
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In an unusual recommendation, COPA wants the officers involved put on desk duty or temporarily relieved of their police powers - even before their investigation is finished.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A family involved in a violent arrest by Chicago police officers on the city's Northwest Side is speaking out about the incident that was captured on video.

The head of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) said Thursday her investigators will conduct a thorough investigation of what happened at the Brickyard Mall as the victim and her family call for justice.

In an unusual recommendation, COPA said it wants the officers involved put on desk duty or temporarily relieved of their police powers - even before their investigation is finished.

COPA added that it has yet to identify all of the officers involved and asked the public to share any information or video pertaining to the incident.

WATCH: Raw video of incident shot by bystander

The arrest took place on May 31, the day after widespread violence and looting in Chicago. It also happened less than one week after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

"The people that I thought was there to protect and serve us had dragged me out of the car by my hair and slammed me to the ground," Mia Wright said.

Alongside her attorney, Wright returned to the Brickyard Mall where cell phone videos captured Chicago Police smashing out a car window, pulling her out, and putting a knee on her neck for what she estimates was two minutes.

WATCH: 'It was traumatizing': Woman describe violent arrest at Brickyard Mall

"The officer had his knee on my neck, and all I thought about, what happened to George Floyd and it could have been another situation like that," she said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the videos deeply disturbing, but said people should not rush to judgment.

"Give COPA and IAD the opportunity to fully investigate, to understand the context, and then to transparently report what investigators find," Lightfoot said.

WATCH: Women in car describe violent encounter with police

James Smith, a friend of Wright's who was meeting her at the mall to shop for a cousin's birthday party, was one of several people who captured what happened on his phone.

"No justification at all, no justification for running up on the car, breaking the windows, no justification for snatching them out," Smith said.

"You will think that in this climate, these particular people, police officers, will work on building trust and promoting peace," said Nenya E. Uche, an attorney for the victim. "Yet what we saw was them promoting and provoking fear, chaos and mayhem."

The head of COPA promised a thorough investigation and said they have established a specialized investigation team in her office.

The investigation of police may come down to CPD regulations that urge against kneeling on suspects and do prohibit neck choke-holds and "a compliance technique that restricts blood flow to carotid arteries, causing the subject to lose oxygen to the brain."

"My understanding is he did have a grip that you're not supposed to use unless you really intend to do bodily injury to the individual and possibly even kill them. That's gonna be a problem," former federal prosecutor Jeff Cramer said.

Brickyard appeared to be a difficult scene for police to manage. There were mass arrests, including a woman seen on video charging police and slugging one patrolman in the face, according to the aggravated battery charges filed against 19-year old Jordan Zamudio. She told the I-Team she snapped after officers pushed her and used racial slurs.

Since Friday, COPA has received 258 complaints against police, mostly stemming from protests and involving complaints of excessive force, denials of counsel, improper search and seizure and verbal abuse.

No decision has been made yet on the status of the officers involved in the Brickyard incident. For now, they continue to work the streets.

The Cook County State's attorney said her office has launched its own independent review of the officers' conduct.

WATCH: Mayor Lightfoot speaks about Brickyard Mall incident

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Lightfoot reiterated her call to accelerate police reforms, including bringing community into police academy as teachers, district training on neighborhood history, expand programs as well as improving officer wellness.

Mayor Lightfoot also called for giving COPA time to conduct investigations.

"You can't take at face value everything that you see, and that includes videos. We have seen some videos out there that are deeply disturbing. No question about it," Mayor Lightfoot said.

COPA Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts said they would "leave no stone unturned" in its investigation.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said it is possible to support police and hold them accountable.

"The best way to represent this star is to ensure that it stands up to its nobility as a profession," Superintendent Brown said

Governor JB Pritzker also weighed in, calling for a speedy investigation - and for justice.

"What I saw was horrific. It was horrific," Pritzker said. "I mean, what happened - thank God it didn't end like George Floyd."

Full statement from Chicago Police Department

The Chicago Police Department strives to treat all individuals our officers encounter with respect. Anyone who feels they have been mistreated by a CPD officer is encouraged to call 311 and file a complaint with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, who will investigate allegations of misconduct. Misconduct on the part of our officers will not be tolerated.

Updated statement from Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA)

Today, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) recommends the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) identify and evaluate the current assignment of involved officers related to the incident at Brickyard Mall in the Belmont Cragin community and either modify their duty status or relieve them temporarily of police power until COPA can further assess the events and circumstances surrounding the use of force. As Chicago's civilian police oversight agency COPA is obligated to demonstrate our commitment to objectivity, integrity, transparency and swift action when responding to misconduct. COPA is in the early stages of this investigation and has yet to identify all involved officers. We ask for cooperation and understanding from the community as we continue to investigate this incident. If anyone has any information or video pertaining to this incident, please call our office at 312-746-3609 or visit for more information.