Federal lawsuits allege brutality against protesters by Chicago police

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Thursday, May 27, 2021
Federal lawsuits allege brutality against protesters by Chicago police
Warning Graphic Video: Two demonstrators, both college students at the time, say in a federal lawsuit they were illegally brutalized and injured by CPD officers.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two men allege excessive force was used against them by Chicago police officers on May 31, 2020 in River North. That was where protesters were met by riot-equipped Chicago police. Two of the demonstrators, both college students at the time, say they were illegally brutalized and injured by officers swinging nightsticks.

"I couldn't do much thinking it was just fear for my life and panic and I just knew that I needed to get out," Gabriel Chinchilla told the I-Team.

The Columbia College Dean's List student and a friend say they were caught in the middle of mayhem that early Sunday evening.

Chinchilla said he was pushed to the ground by an officer during street protests that spiraled quickly into chaos.

"One of them grabbed me and threw me up against the wall, he hit me across the head with a baton and he threw me to the streets where a couple other police officers were just sitting there waiting for me basically to start wailing away with their batons," said Chinchilla. "And I only really managed to get out because there was a bystander who was generous enough. I can't thank them enough."

Chinchilla and his friend, fellow student John Fix, have filed federal lawsuits against the city and several police officers alleging excessive force, false arrest and conspiracy. Attorneys say these photos in the lawsuit show Fix being beaten by officers in the head and leg, plus arm injuries he suffered.

"They were hit multiple times over the head repeatedly by officers that had histories of misconduct. And when you use force on somebody, you have to fill out paperwork you can't just, he can't just hit somebody with a baton and not file paperwork didn't file anything," said Jonathan Brayman, attorney for Chinchilla and Fix.

"These lawsuits have more of a chance, post George Floyd, especially with the availability of videos...and that would be the basis of this case as well. The centerpiece would certainly be the video."

"None of the police officers tried to help anyone. Their famous slogan 'serve and protect', I didn't see anybody protected and see anybody served or helped," said Chinchilla.

One of the officers named in the suit has retired. The others are still on the force; noted in the lawsuit as part of a pattern of abuse by CPD that overlooks misconduct by some officers. A spokesperson for Chicago police tells the I-Team that the department will not comment due to the pending litigation.