Chicago Police Board fires cop accused of choking suspect during arrest — five months after judge acquitted him of charges

In a 5-2 decision, the board voted to dismiss Officer Louis Garcia for his actions in 2019, when Garcia and his partner arrested a man at a bus stop on South Commercial Avenue.

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The Chicago Police Board has voted to fire an officer accused of beating and choking a man during an arrest even though a judge found him not guilty of the charges earlier this year.

In a 5-2 decision, the board voted to dismiss Chicago police Officer Louis Garcia for his actions on May 31, 2019, when Garcia and his partner arrested a man at a bus stop in the 9700 block of South Commercial Avenue.

The board found that Garcia not only beat and choked the man but also didn’t secure him in the police car and didn’t record the full arrest on his body camera. The board also accused him of lying in a report about the arrest.

Garcia was charged with official misconduct last year by Cook County prosecutors, who said the confrontation began when the suspect used a racial slur against Garcia. 

Prosecutors said Garcia then placed his hands around the man’s neck for more than 10 seconds, when Garcia’s partner intervened. Once in the police car, prosecutors said, the suspect tried to bite the officers from the back seat and Garcia hit the man in the face with his elbow.

A judge acquitted Garcia on all counts in April.

Garcia’s lawyer Jim McKay said the police board “had it wrong” and that he was advising Garcia to appeal the dismissal.

“There’s no evidence whatsoever that Garcia choked this man with the intent to restrict his [airflow],” McKay said. “This is against the totality of all the evidence in the hearing.”

A federal lawsuit filed last year accused Garcia of assaulting the same man during a July 2007 arrest, though the suit says that case was settled out of court.

Garcia has drawn more use of force complaints than 99% of his colleagues in the department, according to the Invisible Institute, a Chicago nonprofit that collects government information.

Garcia has been named in lawsuits with other law enforcement officials over the past 12 years, with the accusations ranging from excessive use of force to creating false charges.

Supt. David Brown had recommended dismissal for Garcia, his partner and two officers who failed to “adequately review” reports of the incident. The partner, Manuel Giron, instead was given a 20-day suspension without pay. The two other officers were reinstated.

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