Chicago cop faces 90-day suspension, accused of striking Police Board president during George Floyd protest

Police Board President Ghian Foreman filed a complaint with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability saying an officer struck him five times during the May 31, 2020, protest, leaving him with swelling in both legs and unable to walk home.

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Protest.jpeg

After a peaceful protest through Hyde Park, demonstrators and police officers square off on May 31, 2020, at Lake Park and 53rd Street.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

A Chicago police officer faces a possible three-month suspension for allegedly striking the president of the Chicago Police Board with a baton during a protest sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.

Police Board President Ghian Foreman filed a complaint with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability shortly after the incident, saying the officer struck him five times, leaving him with swelling in both legs and unable to walk home.

COPA finished its investigation last month and found that Officer Zachary Girard struck Foreman “without justification” and failed to document his use of force. Former Chicago Police Supt. David Brown agreed with the agency’s findings and the recommended 90-day suspension, according to records reviewed by the Sun-Times.

Foreman said he was walking in his neighborhood the evening of May 31, 2020, when he noticed tensions escalating between officers and a group of people protesting near the 5300 block of South Lake Park Avenue. He said he saw officers striking a man with a baton, “just whaling away on him,” according to a COPA report.

Girard and other officers ordered the crowd to disperse, standing and holding their batons horizontally, according to statements provided to COPA.

Foreman said he attempted to deescalate the situation, telling Girard: “You don’t have to push us like that,” according to the COPA report. Girard then struck Foreman five times in the leg with his baton, the report states.

Girard recalls “pushing a female with his baton” but does not remember striking Foreman, according to the statement that he provided COPA.

Video footage did not capture the moment Foreman was struck, though video shows him limping shortly afterward. Footage from body-worn cameras shows Foreman “was a cooperative subject against whom no force was authorized,” COPA said.

Nine other officers were investigated after the incident, and COPA found they had engaged in misconduct, including striking others with batons. COPA recommended suspensions ranging from 30 to 180 days. Officer Levon London could be suspended 180 days, or dismissed, for hitting people with his baton and punching someone in the face after he allegedly was hit.

Brown agreed to a 180-day suspension for London and all other penalty recommendations issued by COPA.

Dozens of officers have been under investigation following complaints of misconduct during protests the weekend of May 31, 2020.

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