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Man slammed to ground by Chicago police officer in viral video pleads guilty to battery

Bernard Kersh spat on the officer during an investigative stop in 2019 and was picked up by the officer and slammed on the ground in a recording that made waves.

A still image from surveillance footage shows Bernard Kersh being body-slammed by a Chicago police officer after he allegedly spat in the officer’s face on Thanksgiving in 2019.
A still image from surveillance footage shows Bernard Kersh being body-slammed by a Chicago police officer after he allegedly spat in the officer’s face on Thanksgiving in 2019.
Civillian Office of Police Accountability

A schizophrenic man body-slammed to the ground by a Chicago police officer during an arrest was placed on court supervision Thursday after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of battery in connection to the incident.

In exchange for his guilty plea, Cook County prosecutors dropped other charges against 31-year-old Bernard Kersh, who made national headlines after his videotaped arrest went viral two years ago.

Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil also sentenced Kersh to a year in prison but he was given credit for the time he served in custody.

Kersh declined to make any statements during Thursday’s hearing.

On Thanksgiving 2019, officers approached Kersh at a bus shelter at 79th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue and took a bottle of vodka he had been holding, police said.

Kersh became “irate” and spit in one of the officer’s eyes and mouth, police said at the time. That officer was then seen on cellphone video picking up Kersh and throwing him to the ground.

In video later released by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, Kersh can be seen trying to follow the officer who initially took the bottle. He is then seen turning toward the other officer who used the “emergency take-down” move against him.

Kersh laid motionless in the street after he was slammed to the ground and was eventually placed in the back of a squad car and taken to a hospital.

While Kersh was out on bond in the case, he was arrested in January 2020 and charged with aggravated battery and retail theft for shoving a security guard and stealing flowers and tequila from a South Loop Jewel.

His bond was revoked and he was taken into custody at Cook County Jail.

On Thursday, Kersh also pleaded guilty to a count of theft related to the latter case and was sentenced to a year of supervised release, according to court records.