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Chicago Police Board rejects firing officer accused of making false statements in hospital patient beating

In a 5-3 vote, the board passed a motion finding Officer Clauzell Gause not guilty of making a false statement about his use of force and restoring him to his position.

The Chicago Police Board voted Thursday to restore Officer Clauzell Gause to his position.
The Chicago Police Board voted Thursday to restore Officer Clauzell Gause to his position.
Sun-Times file photo

The Chicago Police Board has cleared a veteran police officer accused of lying to investigators after video surfaced appearing to show the officer punching a handcuffed man at a South Side Hospital nearly seven years ago.

In a 5-3 vote during its monthly meeting Thursday, the board passed a motion finding Officer Clauzell Gause not guilty of making a false statement about his use of force and restoring him to his position.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability had recommended last year that Gause be fired for allegedly lying to investigators. He had also been hit with felony misconduct charges, but those were dropped by the Cook County state’ attorney’s office in 2019.

The confrontation happened June 3, 2014, when then-24-year-old Rayshon Gartley was taken to Jackson Park Hospital for a mental health evaluation. Prosecutors said Gause was seen on surveillance footage punching and shoving Gartley, who was restrained and handcuffed at the hospital.

Gause omitted from a report that Gartley was handcuffed when he punched him, according to a document outlining the charges. Gause also told COPA investigators in an interview that he didn’t make contact with Gartley’s face or head, the document states.

But hospital surveillance video allegedly captured Gause, who was in uniform, holding Gartley’s arms behind his back and shoving him against a wall, causing him to bounce back toward the officer, prosecutors said. Gause then appeared to punch Gartley in the face with a closed fist.

Gartley filed a lawsuit against the city and Police Department in 2016. Records show the suit was settled for $175,000 in 2018.

It was not the first time Gause had been accused of misconduct while wearing a CPD uniform. At least 14 complaints have been filed against him, according to the Citizens Police Data Project.

Gause was also one of 11 Chicago police officers named in a federal lawsuit filed by Jerome James, who accused the officers of using excessive force after he was arrested outside a White Castle restaurant in December 2013.

According to the suit, James was throwing something in a trashcan outside the restaurant in Rosemoor when officers who were waiting for food took him into custody “without any probable cause that a crime had been committed.”

While James was being held at the Calumet District station, he asked the officers why he was being held, causing the officers to assault him, the lawsuit states.

The officers allegedly used “brass knuckles” to punch him in the face, hurled racial epithets at him and ripped the clothes off his body, leaving him naked for “several hours,” the suit states.

James was taken to Roseland Community Hospital, but only after another detainee alerted a supervising officer that James needed medical attention, the suit alleges.

The city settled the lawsuit for $60,000 in December 2015, records show.

Contributing: Tom Schuba, Nader Issa