Teen injured in violent Oak Lawn arrest released to parents 6 days after incident

Dashcam video shows Hadi Abuatelah, 17, was punched in the head by Oak Lawn officers during arrest

ByMichelle Gallardo and Stephanie Wade via WLS logo
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
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Hadi Abuatelah, who was injured in a violent arrest in Oak Lawn last week, was released from juvenile detention into the custody of his family.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A teenager from Oak Lawn who was seriously injured during a violent arrest walked out of a juvenile detention center Tuesday after facing a judge.

The 17-year-old is accused of gun possession and resisting arrest in the incident that took place on July 27. But the boy's parents and supporters say police went too far, even claiming the officers violated his civil rights.

Cheers welcomed Hadi Abuatelah as he gingerly walked out of the Cook County detention center Tuesday afternoon.

RELATED | Former police officers question handling of violent Oak Lawn arrest: 'Lawful, but awful'

Using a walker to get around, the teenager was released into the custody of his parents nearly one week after being placed under arrest. He was then hospitalized as a result of the injuries he sustained at the hands of three Oak Lawn police officers following a traffic stop gone bad.

"All I have to say is thank you for all the support," Abuatelah told the crowd.

A brief thank you is all Abuatelah had to say following his release. The previously scheduled detention hearing is now postponed for three weeks at the request of prosecutors.

"At this point the state's attorney's office is looking to see if they're still going to proceed with the charges against Hadi," said Shady Yassin, the family's attorney. "Their formal decision has not been made that's a question. Our belief is that they're investigating this more closely because of all the circumstances."

Abuatelah is charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest. The incident captured by a witness's cell phone and police dash cam both show the teenager running from police after they investigated the smell of marijuana coming from a car. The video later shows the teen laying on the ground as police officers hit him multiple times.

Oak Lawn Police say Abuatelah had a gun and was trying to reach for it at the time. Police say they recovered that weapon and that officers were justified in their use of force as they tried to restrain him. But a federal complaint filed Monday accuses officers of engaging in a "racially motivated conspiracy to deprive plaintiff of his constitutional rights."

"The extreme, excessive, inhumane treatment by the Oak Lawn PD will not go unlooked, overlooked," said Bishop Tavis Grant, national director of Rainbow PUSH Coalition. "Those officers should be fired, they should be terminated and they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

"Disgust, watching three grown men beat a minor into an inch of his life on camera while we hear him scream is a horrific, horrific thing. And I can't imagine what it was like for his family and his friends to watch that video. As a community, we're just horrified and disgusted of what happened and that's why we're here calling for justice for Hadi," said Muhammad Sankari, with the Arab American Action Network.

The Arab American Action Network held a rally at 8 a.m. outside the juvenile detention center. The police officers involved are being sued by the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Oak Lawn police said they are cooperating with the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force investigation requested by the Cook County State's Attorney's office.