Rev. Jesse Jackson offers support to man seen on video being body-slammed by Chicago officer

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Rev. Jesse Jackson is getting involved in the case of a Chicago man who was captured on video being slammed to the ground by a police officer on Thanksgiving Day.

Rev. Jackson tried to post bail on behalf of 29-year-old Bernard Kersh, who is facing an aggravated battery of a peace officer charge and several misdemeanor charges.

But Rev. Jackson and Kersh's mother left the Cook County Jail empty-handed Monday. Because of a possible parole violation, Kersh will likely remain behind bars for at least a few more days.

Rev. Jackson said he and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition posted the $500 bond after seeing the video of a Chicago police officer throwing Kersh to the ground during an arrest.

"His body slammed to the ground was so provocative, it shook the nation," Rev. Jackson said.

Chicago police said Kersh was drinking from a vodka bottle at a bus shelter in the Chatham neighborhood last Thursday. When he was approached by two officers, police said Kersh became verbally abusive.

According to the arrest report, the officer struggled with Kersh before the incident. The officer attempted to place Kersh into custody by attempting to apply a wrist lock, but then Kersh allegedly licked the officer's face and spit on him.

"Officer Williams immediately conducted an emergency take down to place arrestee into custody and prevent any additional injuries to himself," the arrest report states.

The officer has been relieved of his police powers while investigators review the case.

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Rev. Jackson said the use of an "emergency takedown" was unacceptable.

"This young man's skull could have been cracked," Rev. Jackson said. "They said he licked the face of the officer then spit in his face. It is clear he is mentally ill. He needs help, not to be body-slammed."

Kersh's attorney Sami Azhari said on Sunday that Kersh is diagnosed with schizophrenia.

"This is an individual that suffers from schizophrenia. He's suffered from it for the last six years. He needs some serious help and the fact that the officer reacted the way he did was completely out of control," Azhari said.

Prosecutors presented more information over the weekend about Kersh's criminal history.

Most recently, prosecutors said he was charged with a felony resisting a police officer in October 2018.

According to data from CPD, he was charged with aggravated battery of a police officer back in June 2018.

The Fraternal Order of Police has said the officer's actions were justified and that he should be reinstated immediately.
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