Family renews call for justice after teen's violent arrest by Oak Lawn police last summer

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Thursday, February 16, 2023
Family renews call for justice after teen's violent arrest
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Video released by Oak Lawn police shows officers punching 17-year-old Hati Abautelah after he ran from a traffic stop last summer.

OAK LAWN, Ill. (WLS) -- A suburban Oak Lawn family is renewing calls for justice for a teenager involved in an altercation with police last summer.

There are reports that charges have been filed in the case, but Eyewitness News has not been able to independently confirm those reports.

"Everybody involved, even the good apples, need to stand up and help us weed out what is bad," said Ahmed Rehab, with CAIR-Chicago. "Not just for the betterment of society, but of the police departments and their reputations."

"It's not just about Hati. It's not just about the Arab community as Ahmed spoke about before," said Muhammad Sankari, with Arab American Action Network. "This is a crisis in the culture of policing that's happening on this country."

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The incident happened seven months ago. Oak Lawn police were conducting a traffic stop after officers said they smelled marijuana coming from the car.

Hati Abautelah, 17, is seen running from officers on police dashcam video. Eventually, officers stop him in the street, where video released by Oak Lawn police shows officers punching the teen. Police said Abautelah had a bag with a gun in it and wouldn't let it go. Oak Lawn police said a gun was recovered after the incident.

"As you can imagine, a 17-year-old going through such a traumatic incident, he's going to need some time to heal not only physically but also mentally," said Zaid Abdallah, an attorney for Abautelah.

The Cook County State's Attorney office and the Illinois State Police are investigating the officers' conduct.

SEE ALSO | Gun charges kept against teen, now under curfew after violent Oak Lawn police arrest caught on video

"This cannot be accepted police protocol or behavior," said Bishop Tavis Grant, Rainbow PUSH Coalition. "It must be eradicated it must be erased for there to be a real sense of trust and confidence in both the community and policing."

While Abuatelah faces a gun charge in juvenile court, his parents have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Oak Lawn officers.

The teen and his family declined to comment with the pending litigation and investigations, but through their attorney, the family said they are still waiting for justice.

The Village of Oak Lawn also would not confirm charges in this case.

Oak Lawn Village Manager Tom Phelan released a statement Wednesday saying, in part: "We are not commenting further until we learn more about these circumstances, other than to say we live in a society based on laws and fundamental fairness, and that applies to everyone, including our men and women in uniform."