Chicago officers under investigation after women say they were pulled from car, thrown to ground in videotaped incident

One of the women recalled "12 to 15 police officers that just start bashing and hitting my vehicle with their batons."

ByBarb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner via WLS logo
Thursday, June 4, 2020
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A family involved in a violent arrest by Chicago police officers in the Brickyard Mall on the city's Northwest Side are speaking out about the incident which was captured on video.

CHICAGO -- A family involved in a violent arrest by Chicago police officers in the Brickyard Mall on the city's Northwest Side is speaking out about the incident which was captured on video.

The officers involved are now under investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. The arrest took place on May 31, the day after widespread violence and looting in Chicago. It also happened less than one week after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

The family involved in the police stop plan shared their story at a press conference Thursday morning.

Tnika Tate was with her family members attempting to shop at a store here at Brickyard Mall when they said out of nowhere police started busting out their car windows and yanked them out of the car. As they made their way out of the mall, police yelled at them to pull over.

WATCH: Raw video of incident shot by bystander

What happened next still baffles them. Video shows the officers trying to break the windows of Tate's car which is pulled over. Then one officer pulls Tate's cousin Mia Wright out of the car, throws her to the ground and puts his knee in her back.

"I have anxiety now. I can't sleep. I had to go to a doctor. I had to go to the emergency room. The officer had his knee on my neck. All I thought about was George Floyd and it could have been another situation like that. I'm hurt. I didn't do anything.

Wright was then taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct.

Wright says she had to be rushed to the ER because she got glass in her eye and claims police never explained why she was arrested. They are now pursuing legal action.

WATCH: 'It was traumatizing" Woman described encounter with police at Brickyard Mall

An attorney for the family demanded the charges be dropped and that a criminal investigation be conducted into the officers.

A witness said several young men had just tried to loot a store then scattered at the sound of sirens. He said arriving police pointed to a car driven by Tate.

"Twelve to 15 police officers that just start bashing and hitting my vehicle with their batons," Tate said. "They had their guns drawn."

WATCH: Women in car describe violent encounter with police

"I was trying to get out with my hands up, they continue to break the window, and before you know it I was being pulled out of the vehicle - pulled by my hair after vehicle," Wright said. "The officer grabbed me. I had my hair tied in a bun. He grabbed me by the top of my bun and pulled me out of the vehicle. And that is when they threw me on the ground, and he proceeded to put his knee in my neck."

In the backseat were other family members, including Mia's mother.

"They grabbed, and pulled me out by her hair and had her on the ground. And I'm like, 'What are you doing to my child over there?'" Kim Woods said. "I felt helpless that I couldn't get over there and help my child. When I heard that they had his knee on her neck, first thing I could think about was Floyd."

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she's seen the video and tweeted that "while one video does not always show the entirety of an incident, COPA is investigating to ensure a complete picture of what happened."

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor LIghtfoot reiterated her call to accelerate police reforms, including bringing community into police academy as teachers, district training on neighborhood history, expand programs as well as improving officer wellness.

Mayor Lightfoot also called for giving COPA time to conduct investigations.

"You can't take at face value everything that you see and that includes videos. We have seen some videos out there that are deeply disturbing. No question about it," Mayor Lightfoot said. "But give COPA and IAD the opportunity to fully investigate, to understand the context and then to transparently report what the findings of the investigations find."

COPA Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts said they would "leave no stone unturned" in its investigation.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said it is possible to support police and hold them accountable.

"The best way to represent this star is to ensure that it stands up to its nobility as a profession," Superintendent Brown said

The key question concerns a pressure-point tactic executed by one officer, according to former federal prosecutor and ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer.

"That's a carotid artery restraint and under police guidance, Chicago Police Department guidance - that's deadly force," Soffer said. "And that can only be used as a last resort."

"I worked for the City of Chicago for 38 years as a school clerk for the Board of Education. How can I talk to my kids about the police being friendly?" Woods said.

Full statement from Chicago Police Department:

The Chicago Police Department strives to treat all individuals our officers encounter with respect. Anyone who feels they have been mistreated by a CPD officer is encouraged to call 311 and file a complaint with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, who will investigate allegations of misconduct. Misconduct on the part of our officers will not be tolerated.

Full statement from Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA):

COPA received a complaint regarding this incident and has opened an investigation to determine the if the actions of involved officers are within Department policy. We encourage anyone with information to contact our office at 312-746-3609 or visit our website at ChicagoCOPA.org.