A lawsuit alleging excessive force has been filed against two Evanston police officers shown on bodycam video struggling with a man in a parking lot and using a Taser on him, causing him to hit his head against a curb.
Ronald Louden says police had no reason to approach him in the 2100 block of Wesley Avenue in June 2018.
“Without cause or provocation, (the officers) forcibly handcuffed Mr. Louden, tased him in the back twice, and smashed him face-first into a cement parking curb,” the amended lawsuit states.
But the city of Evanston said in a statement Thursday the officers were responding to a report of a man with a gun and found a loaded weapon in Louden’s car.
“Mr. Louden refused to oblige officers’ verbal requests and did not comply with subsequent verbal commands to step away from a vehicle where he had a loaded gun inside,” the city said. “He then resisted physical restraint.”
It noted Louden later pleaded guilty to having the gun.
Louden says he was outside grilling for family and friends when the officers approached him. A grill and a blue cooler on wheels can be seen in the police video as the officers walk up to Louden on the passenger side of a white Lexus. Music is playing from the car.
One of the officers asks Louden why he was reaching into the car, and he responds that he was going to roll up the window.
When Louden protests he was doing nothing wrong, an officer in the video says, “We talked about this Ronald, this is a problem area.” The officer mentions he has arrested Louden before.
Louden dials 911, telling the officers, “I’m scared ... I want them to hear me.” After reaching a dispatcher, he says, “I’m about to die, y’all.”
The officers press Louden against the car and try to handcuff him as Louden struggles, according to the police footage. One of the officers repeatedly yells at him, “Ronald, stop. Stop, Ronald. I’m going to taze you.”
The officer fires his Taser and Louden falls to the pavement, appearing to hit his head against a curb. Officers continue to struggle with him while trying to pick him up and a Taser is used again, according to the video.
The police footage ends there. According to the lawsuit, officers placed a spit mask over Louden’s face as he bled from the fall, making it difficult to breathe.
Officers also shackled him to a gurney and attempted to search him for drugs as he cried out for help, the suit states.
Louden was held at the Evanston police station for over two days with untreated injuries to the mouth, teeth, face, neck, shoulders and back, the complaint said.
The lawsuit notes Louden has bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and the incident has caused him “severe emotional distress.”
In its statement, Evanston said Louden “was taken by ambulance to a hospital where he received treatment for injuries sustained while resisting officers.”
“Mr. Louden was arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon as a result of the interaction depicted, and he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years ,” it added.