Lincoln Park shooting, robbery victim files civil rights lawsuit against city over CPD policy

Dakotah Earley shooting left 24-year-old with ongoing medical issues

Friday, February 10, 2023
Chicago shooting victim on long recovery: 'It got really bad sometimes'
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Dakotah Earley was seriosly wounded and lost his lower leg after being shot during an armed robbery in Lincoln Park. HIs recovery has not been easy.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A civil rights lawsuit was filed Thursday morning against the city of Chicago on behalf of a man shot during a Lincoln Park robbery last May.

Nine months after then-culinary student Dakotah Earley was violently attacked, the young man is still recuperating, and speaking about the attack and long recovery exclusively to ABC7.

"It got really bad sometimes," he said. "There would be days where I didn't want to do anything."

"The road to recovery has been very long for him," said attorney Cass Casper.

"They left my son for dead," said his mother Joy Dobbs. "And in that, it takes a piece of me."

Earley was shot in May 2022 as he struggled with a gunman who knocked him down and fired at least three times.

He has had 13 surgeries, his left leg amputated above the knee, his jaw reconstructed, and is facing a lifelong road to recovery.

In the lawsuit, which also names Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, Earley's attorneys argue the city's police pursuit policy led to him becoming the target of violent thieves, who had been on a crime spree for days, stealing vehicles and robbing people at gunpoint.

"It's kind of crazy that they went on a spree terrorizing people and robbing them," Earley said.

At the time, Chicago police said nine incidents between May 4 and 6 were connected. Earley was shot on May 6.

Police said the man responsible is 19-year-old Tyshon Brownlee. But Earley's attorneys say the pursuit policy in place prevented police from doing their job to protect him and the community at large, ad that they'd followed Brownlee earlier that night.

"If the police had continued their pursuit of Mr. Brownlee in his stolen BMW it would have prevented this entire chain of events and the disaster that happened to Dakotah just an hour later," Casper said.

RELATED: Photos show Lincoln Park shooting victim sitting up in hospital bed

"They created a situation where rank-and-file police officers felt hamstrung in pursuing folks engaged in criminal activities," Casper added. "You've got a GPS tracking device on a stolen vehicle. I'm not a police officer, but presumably someone could have used that information to track exactly where it was and put a stop to the guys."

RELATED: Lincoln Park shooting victim Dakotah Earley now eating on his own, speaking

"We are looking for the department, the city, to consider what happened to Dakotah and rectify the over-correction it made with the pursuit policy," Casper said.

Dobbs get emotional thinking of the trauma her son has faced, and his courage.

"I'm just floored at how he's responding to all of this because I had no idea he was this much of a fighter. I had no idea," she said.

The spokeswoman for the city's law department told ABC7 Chicago they will review the lawsuit once served, and do not comment on pending litigation.

"I think what's changed is, I guess, to be a lot more careful and pay attention to your surroundings a lot more. I mean, yeah, that person, you know, did that to me, but I mean I'm definitely mad or sad about it, but I'm going to have to move on from it," Earley said.

He will soon undergo his 14th surgery.

The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages.

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