Illinois Police Officer Convicted of Using Excessive Force

May 16, 2013

Police misconduct lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that a Dolton, IL officer faces up to ten years in prison after being convicted of using excessive force. Jurors took less than an hour to decide the officer was guilty of hitting two men on the head with his steel baton outside a nightclub and violating their civil rights.

oakland-riot-police-hold-baton-oakland-riots-2010_l.jpg Among the evidence submitted included a surveillance video, which was repeatedly shown to jurors over the four day trial, and a 911 phone call made by one of the victims. The incident occurred outside Mr. Ricky's nightclub around 2 a.m., right after the club closed, on May 16, 2009.

Plaintiffs alleged that the officer, who is a former teacher, reacted with unnecessary force when the two men cursed at him when he told them to leave the premises. One of the victims, Michael McPherson of Calumet City, testified that he indeed cursed at the officer but ultimately chose to walk away. When McPherson was walking away from the scene, he alleges the officer kept pushing him and suddenly struck him on the head without warning.

McPherson bled heavily from the wound on his head and later required three staples to close it. After striking McPherson the officer apparently hit McPherson's companion, Laurence Williams, who also testified at trial. Williams contends that he was walking backward facing the officer, holding his arms out with palms up when the officer struck him.

The officer neither called for an ambulance nor arrested the men, instead choosing merely to walk away after hitting the them with his baton. He has been on administrative leave since 2009, and is scheduled to be sentenced in mid-August 2013. McPherson placed a call to 911 immediately after the assault, telling the operator he had been hit and was bleeding profusely.

The officer does not deny that he struck the men with his baton but asserts that he did so because he feared for his safety, and used the weapon in a split-second defense reaction. Mr. Ricky's nightclub has an illustrious history of violence. The village of Dolton stated that the incident occurred under a former administration and that Dolton's newly elected officials were unfamiliar with the events that conspired that night.

A similar incident took place in 2006 involving a Chicago police officer, the victim of which recently settled in the amount of $325,000. The officer, John Haleas, was also recently indicted for four counts of official misconduct and perjury and two counts of obstruction of justice for falsifying DUI arrests and later lying about it. More than 150 of the 720 DUI arrests he made in 2005 and 2006 were dismissed after his indictment.

The victim in this case, Julio Martinez, was one of those falsely charged and arrested with a DUI. On top of this, once he was handcuffed and in a CPD holding room, Haleas beat him with a metal bar, fracturing his skull. Martinez, unfortunately, is a hemophiliac, which is a blood disorder affecting the blood's ability to clot. Hemophiliacs can suffer fatal bleed-outs from even the most minor wounds, so the injuries in this case were even more catastrophic.

Police misconduct lawyers at Pintas & Mullins have decades of experience advocating on behalf of civil right violation victims and their families. Police misconduct is characterized by false arrests, excessive force, wrongful imprisonment, or inappropriate baton or taser use, among other occurrences. If you or a loved one was seriously injured by a police officer using excessive force, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your injuries, and should contact a skilled attorney as soon as possible.