Chicago prisoner dies after being tased, beaten and dragged out of cell (VIDEO)

© Chicago Sun-Times
Newly released security camera footage from a Chicago, Illinois jail shows an African American man being repeatedly tased and dragged out of his cell by police. He later died in hospital. The recording was released amid a federal probe into police abuses.

The 2012 footage documenting the treatment of Phillip Coleman prior to his death was released by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday, accompanied by a statement denouncing the treatment of the prisoner. 

“I do not see how the manner in which Mr. Coleman was physically treated could possibly be acceptable,” Emanuel said. “While the medical examiner ruled that Mr. Coleman died accidentally as a result of treatment he received in the hospital, it does not excuse the way he was treated when he was in custody.”

Earlier in the day, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a “patterns and practices” investigation into the Chicago Police Department following almost two weeks of protests over the authorities’ handling of a 2014 shooting of African-American teenager Laquan McDonald. Emanuel said that he fully supported the probe.

The video shows officers at the Calumet District jail on East 11th Street using a Taser on Coleman, wrestling him to the ground and handcuffing him. He was then taken Roseland Community Hospital, where police say he became “combative” and had to be subdued using batons and a Taser again. Coleman was tased three times inside the jail, and another 13 times at the hospital, Ed Fox, the attorney for Coleman’s family, told the Chicago Tribune.

Coleman died in the hospital from what the autopsy report said was a severe reaction to the antipsychotic drug haloperidol. The medical examiner’s report also showed severe trauma, including more than 50 bruises and scrapes all over Coleman’s body and a fractured rib.

In their reports, the officers said that Coleman was being “uncooperative” and “combative,” and that they feared for their safety and the safety of the hospital staff. The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), a civilian agency charged with reviewing complaints of police misconduct, closed its investigation in November 2014 after finding the officers' actions justified. 

Following the public outrage over the video showing the 2014 police killing of McDonald, Emanuel launched a purge of the city’s top police officials. Chicago PD superintendent Garry McCarthy was the first to go, followed by IPRA head Scott Ando. Emanuel, the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, has ignored the protesters’ calls for his own resignation, however.

Coleman, 38, was arrested in December 2012 after assaulting his parents during in what appeared to be a psychotic episode. He punched and kicked his 69-year-old mother, who called the police from a neighbor’s house. Although his parents declined to press charges, Coleman faced a felony charge of aggravated battery for spitting at the responding police officers, the Chicago Tribune reported.

His father Percy, a police officer himself, said the younger Coleman had not been acting “in his right mind” and deserved better from the police. “Instead, the police took no helpful action, and they locked him up. And then 12 hours later, he was dead,” Percy Coleman told the Chicago Tribune.

READ MORE: No charges for Chicago cop in Ronald Johnson shooting, say prosecutors releasing video

The release of the Coleman video follows the decision by State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez not to press charges against the Chicago PD officer who shot Ronald Johnson III in October 2014. The officer’s actions were “reasonable and permissible” given the circumstances, Alvarez said, showing the video of the incident.

Eight days before Johnson’s death, another Chicago officer fired 16 shots into Laquan McDonald, killing the 17-year-old who had been brandishing a knife. A video of the incident was released on November 24, after the officer was charged with first-degree murder, prompting protests in Chicago and across the country and the subsequent decision by the DOJ to launch a civil rights probe.

Almost 96 percent of complaints about police misconduct have been thrown out as “unsustained,” according to the Citizens Police Data Project (CPDP), citing data from 2001-2008 and 2011-2015 obtained from the Chicago PD through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Almost 96 percent of allegations against Chicago PD since 2001 have been dismissed (Source: CPDP)