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CPD officer sues CTA over employee’s ‘careless’ response to passenger’s ‘L’ fire

Video of the incident shows Ferguson arguing with an officer before the pair starts fighting aboard the train at the Argyle station near the Uptown neighborhood. | Chicago Transit Authority

A Chicago police officer is suing a Chicago Transit Authority employee and the agency after a passenger started a fire earlier this year on the ‘L’.

On Friday, Chicago officer Frank Proano filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court alleging that CTA supervisor Gary Chambers was negligent in his response to a “disturbed” man who doused himself in flammable liquid while aboard a Red Line train on the North Side.

The passenger from the incident, David M. Ferguson, had threatened to set himself and others on fire, according to the suit. Proano arrived with other officers and ordered Chambers to close the doors to the train, which was stopped at the Argyle Station near the Uptown neighborhood.

Chambers ignored him and stood in front of the entrance to talk Ferguson down, according to the suit. When that didn’t work, he allegedly approached the passenger and attempted to kick the flammable liquid container out of his hand.

Source: CTA | The Chicago Transit Authority released surveillance video showing officers arresting a passenger as he set a fire

Surveillance video released in January shows Ferguson fighting with a uniformed man before two other uniformed men rush inside to split up the brawl. Ferguson then sets the train on fire, sending all four running toward the platform.

Ferguson was allegedly struck in the face and head, according to the suit. Officers, including Proano, rushed to separate the two. Ferguson then ignited the liquid, starting a fire and filling the car with smoke.

David M. Ferguson | Cook County Sheriff’s Office
David M. Ferguson | Cook County Sheriff’s Office

The suit charges the CTA and Chambers failed to “act in a reasonably safe manner” to avoid harming others. It also alleges Chambers failed to listen to CPD orders and needlessly provoked a suicidal man.

Proano is seeking more than $100,000 in damages and a jury trial. His shoulder was permanently injured, and he has suffered “severe and extreme emotional distress” from the altercation, according to the suit.

CTA spokesman Jon Kaplan declined to comment on the pending litigation.

CPD Anthony Guglielmi said he was unaware of the lawsuit Friday evening and declined further comment.

The passenger, Ferguson, was charged in January with arson and battery to a police officer. He remains jailed until his next court appearance Sept. 5.