An Oak Lawn police officer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of aggravated battery and official misconduct for his allegedly striking a then 17-year-old Bridgeview teen more than 10 times in the face and head as he was laying face down in the street during an arrest captured on video last July.
Officer Patrick O’Donnell was released on an individual recognizance bond, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. He has been with the department since December 2014. He was indicted by a grand jury Feb. 14.
O’Donnell is one of three officers involved in the July 27 arrest of the teen, caught on video, which started as a traffic stop and ended with the teen running from officers and being chased.
O’Donnell, 32, is scheduled to appear April 6 before Cook County Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson.
On July 27, O’Donnell was on-duty working in a marked squad card when he pulled over a sedan with three juveniles that he said had a smell of burnt cannabis, according to a bond proffer filed Wednesday by county prosecutors.
O’Donnell searched the vehicle and asked a passenger who was sitting in the rear seat behind the driver to step out. The passenger ran off as he was being searched by the officer, according to the proffer.
O’Donnell chased him, ordering him to stop, while a second officer, Brandon Collins, arrived and took the juvenile to the ground, according to the filing.
Prosecutors say O’Donnell began hitting the juvenile in the 9500 block of South McVicker Avenue in Oak Lawn, while Collins pulled at his arms. At one point, O’Donnell used his left hand to hold the juvenile by his head and hair as he “repeatedly” used his left hand to punch the youth in the face and head, according to the proffer.
A third officer, Mark Hollingsworth arrived and “applied a pressure point” behind the juvenile’s ear while O’Donnell continued to punch him, the proffer said.
O’Donnell punched the juvenile more than 10 times, prosecutors alleged.
Collins then applied a Taser to the juvenile’s back, and he was placed into handcuffs. A pistol was recovered from the juvenile’s bag, the proffer said.
The juvenile was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and treated for a broken nose, cuts and bruises and subdural bleeding.
Zaid Abdallah, an attorney representing the teen’s family, said at a news conference last month his client has one more surgery left as a result of injuries he received, and that he’s undergoing mental health treatment.
O’Donnell, Collins and Hollingsworth are named in a federal lawsuit filed Aug. 1, alleging they “engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct” in the teen’s arrest.
Video provided by police as well as video taken by witnesses show officers repeatedly punching the youth as he was pinned down.
The arrest and video footage sparked protests and the lawsuit alleges the three officers involved in the arrest conspired among one another in a “racially motivated conspiracy” to deprive of the teen of his constitutional rights because he is Arab American.
Ahmed Rehab, CAIR-Chicago executive director, said the video showed “three big, adult males pounding up on a frail minor” hitting his head into the concrete and causing major injuries.
“It’s not the way to do. In no civilization, no time, no place on Earth is this kind of behavior accepted,” Rehab said.
He said the possible indictment is a first step.
“We hope that as this goes into the court system that these charges are not down graded, that justice is served,” Rehab said.
State police have been reviewing the arrest and those findings were expected to be turned over to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
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Rehab said police brutality occurs “overwhelmingly” when the arrestee is a person of color. Beyond race, Rehab said ego and power trips also lead to some officers using force against an arrestee.
“Someone had to run more than they thought they should have. Someone was not listened to the way that they thought they should have been. Someone was not obeyed the way that they would’ve liked to be obeyed,” Rehab said. “Those sort of things are very subtle but they matter and they are the split second difference between professionalism and police brutality.”
Police officers are supposed to arrest individuals and then let the legal system determine guilt or innocence, Rehab said.
“It is not the role of the police to adjudicate criminality. They apprehend individuals who are suspected of crimes, then these individuals go through something we call the justice system that involves courts,” Rehab said. “It’s not the role of police to do all of those things that belong to the justice system.”
The teen faces charges of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and unlawful possession of a firearm.
At a July 28 news conference following a protest over the arrest, Oak Lawn police Chief Daniel Vittorio said the arresting officers feared for their safety and suggested they would have been in their right to use deadly force.
Vittorio said responding officers feared the teen had a firearm in an “accessory bag” draped over his right shoulder, although the firearm was not recovered until the teen had been handcuffed.