The family of Mia Wright called for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to open a criminal investigation into the conduct of a police officer who dragged Wright by the hair from a vehicle and knelt on her neck at a West Side mall over the weekend.
“There has to be justice for the family,” family attorney Nenye Uche said Thursday at a news conference held in the parking lot of the Brickyard Mall, a few steps from where the encounter with police took place Sunday afternoon.
Uche also called for the disorderly conduct charge against Wright to be immediately dropped.
Foxx’s office issued a statement Thursday afternoon: “We are aware of the incident that occurred at Brickyard Mall and are currently conducting a thorough, independent review of the matter, including the conduct of the police officers involved. We take law enforcement accountability seriously and have reached out to the family involved through their attorney.”
The family still doesn’t understand why police targeted their car in the first place and is demanding answers.
Wright was in the front passenger seat of her cousin’s car Sunday when police, for no apparent reason, began to smash the windows of the vehicle with batons and order everyone out.
An officer grabbed Wright’s hair, which had been wound into a bun, and yanked her from the car, Wright said.
While Wright was on the ground, the officer knelt on her back and neck. Wright, who got a piece of glass in her eye during from the shattered window, was held overnight at a nearby police station, she said.
“All I thought about was what happened to George Floyd and it could have been another situation like that,” Wright said Thursday.
Bystanders captured video of the incident.
Wright and three family members were trying to exit the mall parking lot after realizing the Target they wanted to go to was closed, family said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said investigators with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which probes allegations of police misconduct, are trying to determine the identities of the officers involved in the incident and the context surrounding the encounter.
At the conclusion of the investigation, COPA will share its findings with Supt. David Brown and make a recommendation on any disciplinary measures they deem appropriate.
“Of course, I have my own personal opinion about it,” Lightfoot said at a separate news conference Thursday. “But I’m not going to share it because I don’t want to influence what COPA’s work is.”
“No police department that I know, certainly no reputable one, allows for officers to put their knees on somebody’s neck.”
Brown said he’ll be taking “swift action” as soon as he has COPA’s findings.
Wright and her cousin, Tnika Tate, 39, said police addressed them with words such as “bitch” and “savage.”
Tate is the manager of a South Side funeral home where Wright works.
Wright’s mother, Kim Woods, 55, who was also in the car, expressed anger and frustration Thursday.
“I’m rather pissed off at the moment,” said Woods, who works as a secretary to the principal of Dett Elementary School.
“I want her charges dropped, we didn’t do anything,” she said. “I want justice for all three of us. I want justice for the world. I don’t want anyone to have to go through this ever in their life again.”
“If you wanted our attention, all you had to do was knock on the window,” she said.
Uche said police should be transparent about what happened.
“They should just say they made a mistake,” said Uche, who plans to file a civil rights lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department on behalf of the family. “Obviously, they thought they were someone else.”
“We all saw the video, they didn’t try to run. Why use that kind of force if you’re not trying to provoke fear and chaos,” he said.
There had been looting at the Brickyard Mall Sunday, Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) told the Chicago Sun-Times. There were also nonviolent protests at the mall, he said.
Wright said her family had nothing to do with protests or looting, they wanted to shop for party supplies at Target but never even got out of the car.
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.
Uche called the explanation by police “utter nonsense.”