Couple attacked in weekend chaos claim police did not aid them; CPD launches internal investigation

Multiple aldermen weighed in on the city's response to the large crowds

Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Good Samaritan says CPD did not intervene in couple's attack
A good Samaritan says CPD did not intervene in a couple's attack Saturday night. Now an investigation is underway.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There was chaos downtown Chicago this past weekend with swarms of young people in the streets seen attacking people and property.

There were numerous reports of vandalism and other crimes, as well as reports of attacks on police. A large crowd that gathered allegedly attacked a young couple, who claimed police drove by without coming to their aid.

RELATED: Couple beaten, robbed during Chicago downtown chaos over weekend, helped by good Samaritan

"I'm just more mad about the fact the cops drove by and didn't do anything about it," one of the victims, Devante Garrison-Johnson, said.

Chicago police confirmed they have begun an internal investigation into this specific incident. However, retired CPD Lt. John Garrido said that in the volatile crowd situation with officers vastly outnumbered like Saturday night, it's unclear what should have happened.

"There's just one or two officers in that car," Garrido said. "They're all told not to go into big groups on their own because that's how we end up with cars being flipped or set on fire or officers getting hurt."

"This is a chaotic, volatile situation, and you can't isolate 10 seconds and cast judgment on it," 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins said.

Ald. Hopkins' ward includes parts of the downtown area. He's one of a number of City Council members concerned about the weekend chaos and the police response to it.

"Police could have been ready from the get-go," 15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez said. "Instead, they allowed a powder keg to catch fire, and pandemonium ensued."

Public Safety Chair Chris Taliaferro said he expects police to be ready should the crowds return this weekend.

"I believe our police department is very much aware of what might happen this weekend and they'll be better prepared for it," Taliaferro said.

It was Ashley Knutson's scream in cell phone provided by CWB Chicago that caught Lenora Dennis' attention.

"All of the sudden it was just, stomping him in the ground and just kept jumping on his head," Dennis said.

In her own cell phone video, Dennis can be seen running toward the mob.

"I saw police cars that kept going past. And I'm just knowing in my mind that 'oh my god they're gonna see this happening,'" Dennis said.

From the middle of the pack, with punches and kicks landing on her boyfriend's head, Knutson said there was just a second of relief as she said police approached.

"I actually saw a cop drive right by, and that's when the kids stopped beating up (her boyfriend) DJ. They ran off, but the cop didn't stop, so as soon as the cop was out of eyesight the kids started turning back and walking towards us," Knutson said.

That's when Dennis said she leaped into action

"I tried to stop a police car; I literally got in front of a police car and put my hands up and was telling them, 'hey these people are getting assaulted.' And I thought that was enough, and the police just cut a path around me and kept going," Dennis said.

The president of the union representing Chicago police officers supports the probe for a police force he said has been overly criticized, crippling their response.

"I don't know what officers were involved. Maybe they were going to another call? Who knows. Nobody knows the particular details, but the knee jerk reaction is 'oh my God that's terrible," said John Catanzara Jr., president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7.

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