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Two officers involved in Brickyard Mall incident stripped of police powers

Police Supt. David Brown had promised “swift action” in response to misconduct, but police union president says officers “responded 100% appropriately.”

Flanked by family members, attorneys and supporters, Mia Wright, 25, cries as she discusses a violent encounter with Chicago Police officers. during a press conference in the parking lot of the Brickyard Mall on the West Side, Thursday morning, June 4, 2020.
Flanked by family members, attorneys and supporters, Mia Wright, 25, cries as she discusses a violent encounter with Chicago police officers during a press conference in the parking lot of the Brickyard Mall on the West Side, Thursday morning, June 4, 2020. Wright and three relatives encountered the police when they drove to the mall Sunday, not knowing it was closed because of looting. Wright said she was charged with disorderly conduct after a white officer yanked her by the hair to get her out of the car, put her in handcuffs on the ground and then knelt on her back and neck to restrain her.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Two of the Chicago police officers involved in dragging a woman from a car by her hair and smashing the car’s windows at the Brickyard Mall have been stripped of their police powers.

Bystanders captured video of the encounter amid a tense time at the mall, where looting occurred Sunday.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, had recommended earlier Friday that all officers involved be stripped of their police powers and reassigned to desk duty. COPA also suggested to Brown that those cautionary measures should remain in place during the course of their investigation into the incident.

At a news conference Thursday, police Supt. David Brown had promised to take “swift action” as soon as he received COPA’s findings.

Friday evening, after he had stripped the two officers of police powers, Brown appeared at an unrelated news conference and discussed police misconduct in general.

“We cannot afford to let any officer tarnish this star,” Brown said.

Meanwhile, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office announced Thursday it was conducting an independent review of the officers’ conduct.

Mia Wright, 25, who was dragged from the car by her hair, and her family still do not understand why police targeted the car in the first place and want answers.

Wright was in the front passenger seat of her cousin’s car Sunday when police began to smash the windows of the vehicle with batons and order everyone out.

An officer grabbed Wright’s hair, which had been wound into a bun, and yanked her from the car, Wright said.

While Wright was on the ground, the officer knelt on her back and neck. Wright, who got a piece of glass in her eye from the shattered window, was held overnight at a nearby police station, she said.

Wright was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct after the incident. Wright and her family are calling for the charge to be dropped.

John Catanzara, president of the Chicago Police Union, told reporters Friday afternoon that “those officers responded 100% appropriately.” The car Wright was in, he said, met the description of a car involved in the looting at the mall.

“I know people want to say the police are wrong about this, that, or the other thing, but the simple fact is when you are given a lawful order you need to comply.”

Catanzara said shattering the car window and dragging the women out of the car didn’t constitute excessive force or brutality. And Wright was restrained appropriately, he said.

“She was not knelt on her neck, she was knelt on her collarbone,” Catanzara said. “That is a tactic in the academy to keep someone, on the shoulder blade or the collarbone, to keep them to the ground.”

Contributing: Manny Ramos