Two Chicago Police officers have been stripped of their arrest powers and placed on desk duty pending an investigation into a racially motivated fight that left a sergeant with severe head injuries, a department spokesman said Friday.
On Oct. 30, the officers — Marc Jarocki and Michael Kelly — entered an elevator with the sergeant when he made a racially disparaging comment to a group of African-Americans going to a wedding at City Hall, witnesses alleged.
The sergeant was quoted as saying: “We got the all n – – – – – elevator.”
A group of men followed the sergeant into a parking lot, and the African-American groom punched him in the head, witnesses said.
One of the officers struggled with the groom, too, while the other officer stood at a distance, witnesses said.
Neither of the officers or the sergeant— who are white — identified themselves as cops. They were in plain clothes, witnesses said.
At one point during the fight, the officer was on the ground and pulled his gun, which was pointed at a 2-year-old girl in the other group, witnesses said.
The girl’s father, Brian Williams, kicked away the gun and the groom took the weapon to prevent a shooting, according to a lawyer for Williams.
No one has been charged criminally in the incident.
On Friday, the sergeant remained in serious condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, officials said.
The Sun-Times, meanwhile, has learned new details about what the officers were doing before the fight.
That morning, the three met with city attorneys to prepare for a trial in a federal lawsuit filed in 2007. Originally, Jarocki, Kelly and the sergeant were all sued, but only the sergeant remains a defendant. He’s accused of detaining a man illegally.
During the meeting with city lawyers, they learned the trial was postponed. The sergeant and two officers were free to leave at 11 a.m., city officials said.
It’s unclear where they spent the next four hours. The fight happened at about 3 p.m. on the 12th floor of a parking garage near Madison and State.
A police spokesman said the sergeant and two officers were “detailed” to the city’s Law Department on Oct. 30. It’s unclear whether they were still considered on duty when the fight occurred.
The Sun-Times isn’t identifying the sergeant because he’s an assault victim. Williams previously identified himself to reporters.
Court records show the sergeant and Jarocki are facing another pending lawsuit that was filed this year. In addition, the city paid a $12,500 settlement to a man claiming the sergeant punched him in the face after a minor traffic accident in 2010.
Williams, who is white and a friend of the groom, turned himself in to the police on Nov. 1 in south suburban Harvey. He’s been cooperating with police investigators, said his lawyer, Max Solomon.
Solomon said his client hasn’t decided if he’ll file a lawsuit in the Oct. 30 incident. But he said the cops were in the wrong.
“One would expect a Chicago Police officer to identify himself or herself at that point perhaps to mitigate any further violation of the law,” he said.