Off-duty Chicago police sergeant used ‘excessive force’ on 14-year-old boy, family’s attorney says

The boy’s parents are seeking legal action against the officer. The Chicago Police Department said it is investigating the incident, which occurred Friday evening.

SHARE Off-duty Chicago police sergeant used ‘excessive force’ on 14-year-old boy, family’s attorney says

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A Park Ridge family is calling for criminal charges to be brought against an off-duty Chicago police sergeant they say pinned down their 14-year-old son and pressed a knee to his back.

The family said the off-duty officer mistakenly thought the boy was trying to steal his son’s bicycle.

“He had committed no crime,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci. “He wasn’t armed. He wasn’t aggressive. He had not resisted with anybody. He was there with his bike. He did not pose a threat to anybody.”

Park Ridge police, along the Chicago Police Department and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, have all launched investigations into the July 1 incident. No arrests or disciplinary action has been announced.

“As parents, we are heartbroken over the abuse of power and excessive force used against our son,” the boy’s mother, Nicole Nieves, said at a Wednesday news conference. “In a world where it already feels unsafe to go to the mall, to attend school, to enjoy a parade with family, the last thing we need is any reason to fear those who stand to protect us.”

The boy was out with friends Friday evening, near a Starbucks at Euclid and Northwest Highway in Park Ridge. Holding his bike, the boy was moving another bike that was blocking his path when the officer confronted him, Romanucci said. 

The officer grabbed the boy, pinned his arms behind his back on the sidewalk and put his knee on the boy’s back, according to video provided by the attorney and the family. The boy’s friends pleaded with the officer to get off him, and eventually the boy was freed.

“This is a clear-cut case of racial profiling,” Romanucci said. “The off-duty officer is white and the boy was the only person of color in a group of teenagers. Chicago police have a history of racial bias and they continue to racially profile people, even outside of Chicago, and that culture permeates officers’ lives.”

The boy was not physically harmed but is suffering emotionally and mentally, the family said. He is the eldest of three boys.

“We’ve had to have very tough conversations about how to raise our boys to live in the delicate balance of standing up for what’s right, while also protecting their hearts and their bodies as brown Puerto Rican minority boys when they’re faced with unfair, unjust biases,” Nicole Nieves said.

“We’ve talked to our sons about this regularly, but nothing truly prepares you for this day.”

There was no comment from Park Ridge or Chicago police.

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