The Chicago Police Department released two graphic videos Friday showing a female officer struggling with a motorist who is accused of pounding her head into the pavement and severely injuring her.
The videos — taken from a dash-cam recorder and an officer’s body camera on Oct. 5 near Roosevelt and Cicero on the West Side — are a counterpoint to the videos of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014. Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with murder in the McDonald shooting and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he “violated both the standards of professionalism that come from being a police officer, but also basic moral standards that bind our community together.”
An expert on police officers’ use of force told the Chicago Sun-Times that the Oct. 5 videos show the female officer and her partner engaged in “amazing” restraint. They would have been justified in killing Parta Huff, the motorist, the expert said.
Huff, 28, of Maywood, is being held without bond on charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery. A trained cosmetologist, Huff held a full-time job as a janitor and a part-time job at a chocolate factory and as a janitor, his lawyer said.
Police say he’s a gang member and was high on PCP at the time of the fight with the officers.
At about 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 5, Huff crashed his 2015 Hyundai Sonata into Roosevelt Liquors at the corner of Roosevelt and Cicero. A clerk at the store called 911. The dash-cam video shows the female officer and her male partner racing to the scene with their sirens on. They spot Huff walking down a sidewalk, wearing red clothing and a red stocking cap.
“That’s him?” the partner says.
“Yeah,” a witness says.
“Come here, man. Come here! Hey!” the partner says to Huff out of the window of the police SUV. “I’m not playing with you, dude. I’m going to Tase you in like two seconds. I’m not even f—— around with you.”
The officers hold Huff while the female officer tries to handcuff him.
He resists and she says “Tase him!”
“Put your hands behind your back,” the partner says.
“Tase him, tase him!” the female officer repeats as she holds one of Huff’s arms on the police vehicle. She was only able to handcuff his left arm.
“Get down on the ground!” she orders Huff.
“Drop now! Stop fighting!”
The officers and Huff continue to struggle as he leads them down the street.
Then Huff tackles the female officer to the pavement. Two Cook County Sheriff’s officers run up, standing over the female officer and her partner who are both on the ground.
Soon other officers arrive, including a Chicago cop wearing a body camera. His body camera shows the officer pulling Huff’s legs in a vain effort to remove him from the female officer.
“Let go of her!” the officers repeatedly yell.
“He’s got her f—— hair!” one says.
Another officer arrives and appears to kick and knee Huff several times.
About two minutes after the female officer was thrown to the pavement, she escapes. She briefly stands, then falls to her knees and waves for help from another officer.
Meanwhile, officers put Huff’s right wrist in handcuffs.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson had highlighted the violent encounter during an awards ceremony for police officers and firefighters. He told reporters about his hospital-room conversation with the female officer who struggled with Huff.
“She looked at me and said she thought she was gonna die. And she knew that she should shoot this guy, but she chose not to because she didn’t want her family or the department to have to go through the scrutiny the next day on national news,” Johnson said.
The officer remains in the hospital with injuries to her head and neck, a police spokesman said. Her partner, another officer and Huff were treated for minor injuries.
At the request of the Chicago Sun-Times,retired Illinois State Police Lt. Col. Ronald Janota reviewed the police reports in the Huff case, along with news accounts of what prosecutors said in court and Johnson’s statement to reporters. He stressed that his opinion depended on the accuracy of the information — and that he usually spends days reviewing other information such as court testimony, depositions and doctors’ reports before coming to a conclusion about the proper use of force.
Still, Janota said the female officer and her partner would have been legally justified to shoot and kill Huff “without question.” The law and police policies “clearly state that if an officer or another person is in fear serious bodily injury or if his or her life is in danger, deadly force is justified,” he said.
The officers followed the “force continuum,” Janota said.
“In other words, it did not jump from a struggle to use of deadly force. Other alternatives were used to attempt to can control of the event, including Mace and Tasers.
The officers used a Taser on Huff three separate times, according to police reports.
“The restraint used by these officers is amazing. The apprehension to use deadly force with the current federal legal system and political climate is understandable,” Janota said. “Unfortunately, officers or third-party members will suffer the consequences of the officers’ apprehension to stop the threat by shooting the offender, even when faced with death.”
Such apprehension among Chicago cops has intensified because of the McDonald shooting in 2014. Van Dyke shot McDonald, who was carrying a knife, as McDonald appeared to walk away from officers. In November, the officer was charged with murder on the same day the city released a video of the shooting. The shooting sparked the firing of police Supt. Garry McCarthy and a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the police department’s practices, including use of force.