What are police officers to do when they are in the middle of abusing their power, threatening to shoot a man they had just pulled over, only to realize he is a police investigator?
The answer is simple: turn off the dash cam.
That is exactly what Chicago officers did on a DUI traffic stop before badly injuring George Roberts, who is a supervisor at the Independent Police Review Authority, which reviews police misconduct cases.
A recently released criminal complaint against the Chicago Police Department and six of its officers shows that officers unlawfully detained and falsely arrested Roberts earlier this year without legal justification or probable cause.
On New Years Day 2015, Roberts was driving from a bar when he was pulled over by officers at 1:30 a.m. Officers approached Roberts with their guns drawn and demanded he step out of the SUV he was driving.
The complaint further reads that Roberts was pushed in the back and fell to the ground, injuring his legs and knees, and one of the officers shouted, “Don’t make me fucking shoot you!”
It is reported that Chicago police officer B. Ellison noticed Roberts was an IPRA Investigator while searching his wallet, which was when he proceeded to run to his patrol vehicle and turn the patrol dash cam video off.
Up to that point, the video recording device had been properly functioning with date and time stamps clearly visible, so it appears Ellison deliberately turned the dash camera off with the intention to violate the Roberts’ civil and Constitutional rights.
Arrest records submitted by Chicago police show there was no video of the incident, but that was proven to be a lie during the DUI trial. Roberts’ legal team then discovered there was dashcam video of the incident that was abruptly turned off when the officers came across Roberts’ IPRA badge.
The police report states that Roberts told officers he had two drinks of rum and coke at a local bar. Roberts refused to undergo field sobriety tests, and the officers put him in the back of a squad car. It is not a requirement that citizens submit to field sobriety tests. The DUI case was eventually dismissed in June.
While in the back of the patrol vehicle, Roberts complained of the handcuffs being too tight. In an apparent attempt to mock the Eric Garner situation, one of the officers leaned into the squad car and said something to the effect of, “What are you going to tell me next, you can’t breathe?”
The officers then took the 6-foot, 315-pound man out of the patrol vehicle and slammed him to the ground, which in turn was so violent that it caused the large man to defecate on himself.
Roberts was then taken to jail and placed in a holding cell wearing his bowel-stained and drenched clothes overnight. Roberts’ contends that while in the holding cell, he was laughed at by a white shirt supervisor.
The complaint reads, “The police conduct was wholly unnecessary and unreasonable, as [Roberts] was not threatening, resisting or otherwise failing to comply with the [officers’] orders at this point or at any point during the stop”.
Roberts alleges that the Chicago Police Department violated his constitutional rights, specifically the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, and as a result suffered injury and emotional distress.