Chicago, IL – A civilian review panel is investigating how Chicago officers handled a fight that broke out in Boys Town during the PRIDE festivities following an uproar about police tactics caused by a viral video (video below).
The incident occurred just after 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, as police were in their fifth hour of trying to control large crowds and maintain order along Belmont Avenue, where there had already been multiple fights following the PRIDE parade, CWB Chicago reported.
A big fight broke out in the doorway of a bar called Big City Tap, and nearby officers responded to break up the “battery in progress,” the Daily Mail reported.
The incident was captured by several cell phones and the video has been shared extensively on social media.
In the first video, which began at a distance, it appeared that a fight broke out in front of the bar, and then the bar’s security staff tossed a man to the ground, and away from the doorway.
The camera zoomed in just as a woman dressed all in white inserted herself into the middle of the fray.
In the video, the woman in white took a swipe at a bouncer, and had just brought her arm back to wind up for another swing when a Chicago police officer approached her from behind and put her to the ground.
“Why did you slam her like that?” someone behind the camera asked, just as the woman on the ground began kicking her legs up in the air and twitching.
“She’s having a seizure!” the woman behind the camera screamed, as an officer bent down to render aid to the woman in white.
A second video that has been posted to social media was filmed from another angle, and began just as the police officer stepped in to subdue the fighting woman.
That video showed officers bending over the woman and showing concern, as they shooed away an onlooker wearing a rainbow flag who appeared to try and move the woman and hold her down.
“You cannot hold her down,” one of the officer told the screaming crowd in the video, as they waited for an ambulance to arrive to transport the woman to the hospital.
There was an immediate backlash after multiple videos were posted to social media, many of which did not show the context of the altercation, or the fight that preceded the takedown of the woman in white.
“CPD takes all force complaints seriously,” Chicago Police Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi told the Daily Mail. “The woman was involved in a physical fight with a group of individuals. When officers arrived, they attempted to break up the disturbance by subduing the woman to the ground.”
Officer Guglielmi said the officer’s actions were “formally documented,” and that the department had referred the matter to the Chicago Office of Police Accountability (COPA) for an independent investigation, according to CWB Chicago.
He said the woman in white was not taken into police custody, but no information about her condition was available.
Chicago police sources told CWB Chicago that the department’s general orders would have permitted “an emergency takedown” under the circumstances.
“Brawls are a huge officer safety issue, you usually have both hands busy, can't watch you or partner's back, and all your force options and gun are exposed,” the police source explained.
The source said that when officers encounter a fight, they usually try to “find the aggressors and stop the energy before it increases to an uncontrolled point.”
Watch the officers attempt to break up the fight and subdue the woman in the video below: