Woman says Chicago cop pulled her from car by hair, knelt on her neck before she was arrested

Mia Wright said a police officer put his knee on her neck after pulling her from the car. Wright and other family members have no idea why they were targeted.

SHARE Woman says Chicago cop pulled her from car by hair, knelt on her neck before she was arrested
Mia Wright (left) and her cousin, Tnika Tate.

Mia Wright (left) and her cousin, Tnika Tate.

Provided

When police came running toward their car in the parking lot of the Brickyard Mall on the West Side Sunday afternoon, Mia Wright and other family members in the vehicle thought the officers were responding to something happening nearby.

So they were dumbfounded, Wright says, when the officers began beating their car with batons, smashing its windows, and ordered everyone from the vehicle.

Wright, 25, and and her family members had gone to the mall since stores were closed in North Lawndale as shops feared looting, she said. But after they realized the Target they wanted to visit was closed, and they tried to exit the parking lot “there was a lot of confusion, police had a lot of exits and entrances blocked off and we were stopped at a stop sign about to leave, with a car in front of us, when all this happened,” Wright said.

A chaotic video of the encounter showed multiple cops surrounding their car, a Hyundai Sonata, and pulling people out.

Wright said she tried to open the door and keep her hands up because officers had guns drawn.

But Wright said a white police officer yanked her by the hair to get her out of the car, put her in handcuffs on the ground and then knelt on her back and neck, even though she was complying with their demands, she said. In the process, a piece of glass from the shattered window got in her eye, she said.

“For an officer to sit there and put his knee in my neck, the same reason people are protesting nearby in the first place because of what happened to George Floyd, I think it’s all related,” Wright said. “And I want justice, they should know not to do that, especially not to women. They handled me like I was a man, like I was some type of animal or something.”

Officers arrested Wright, charged her with disorderly conduct and seized the family’s car, leaving her three relatives stranded.

“I was handcuffed to a bench in a police interview room for an hour telling police I need to go to a hospital because I have glass in my eye before I was finally taken in an ambulance to get help,” she said.

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The car Mia Wright was in when Chicago police officers smashed out the car’s windows.

Provided

In an email, the police department said Wright “was observed by responding officers assembled with 3 or more persons for the purpose of using force or violence to disturb the peace.” No additional details of the incident were provided.

“What? How?” Wright responded when she heard the police statement, adding that she never even got out of the car. “That makes no sense.”

The police statement went on: “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 (COPA), who will investigate allegations of misconduct. Misconduct on the part of our officers will not be tolerated.”

A COPA spokesman told the Sun-Times Wednesday “there is an active investigation into the incident.”

“I don’t know why they chased down our vehicle,” Wright said. “That’s the thing, I don’t know if they thought we were some young guys in the vehicle, because there was a little tint in the car windows. It happened so fast,” Wright said.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) said that there were non-violent protests at the mall, but that several stores were also looted at the mall Sunday.

Villegas also had a sharp reaction after seeing video of the police encounter with Wright.

“What I saw in the video is appalling,” he said. “If someone is doing something wrong or is alleged to have committed an offense, by all means try to apprehend them, but do it in a manner that’s more respectful.”

Wright said she is recovering from the incident physically, but is mentally scarred.

“I’m okay, a little sore, bruises and scrapes,” Wright said. “I’m real frightened. I don’t even want to see the police. I’m terrified of them at this moment. I have so much going on in my mind, I’ve never been in this situation, never been locked up.”

Wright’s cousin, Tnika Tate, 39, a funeral home director, was driving the car at the time. She feels the incident was racially motivated and wants the officers reprimanded or fired.

“We’re not sitting back and taking it lightly,” she said.

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