CPD officer accused of choking handcuffed man in 2019 charged with official misconduct

Officer Louis Garcia, a 17-year veteran of the department, allegedly choked the handcuffed man during an arrest after the man directed a racial slur toward him.

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A Chicago police SUV

A Chicago police officer has been charged with official misconduct for allegedly choking a handcuffed man during a 2019 arrest.

Sun-Times file

A veteran Chicago police officer faces a felony charge after he allegedly choked a handcuffed man during a 2019 arrest in South Chicago.

Officer Louis Garcia, 41, was charged Friday with a count of official misconduct and was released after posting $2,500 bond following a hearing before Judge David Navarro, court records show.

Garcia was on patrol with another officer on May 31, 2019, in the 8900 block of South Commercial Avenue when they saw a man standing in the street and blocking traffic, according to a Jan. 13 statement from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigated the incident.

During the man’s arrest, a struggle ensued, and Garcia is accused of choking the 42-year-old in the back of a police vehicle while he was handcuffed, COPA said.

The struggle was sparked in part when the arrested man directed a racial slur at Garcia, Cook County prosecutors said.

“Who the f--- are you talking to? I’m a what lover?,” Garcia said in response, according to prosecutors.

Garcia then placed his hands over the man’s neck for more than 10 seconds, making it difficult for the man to breath, prosecutors said. The officer’s partner went around the car and got in from the other side to remove Garcia’s hands, prosecutors said.

As they drove the man to a police station, he allegedly tried to bite the officers, leading Garcia to hit him in the face with his elbow, resulting in a cut on the man’s lip that required six stitches to close, prosecutors said.

Some of the incident was captured by Garcia’s partner’s body-worn camera, prosecutors said. A complaint was never filed with COPA by the man, but COPA was later notified by the Chicago Police Department’s Force Review Unit.

The state’s attorney’s office initially declined to press charges against Garcia, who joined the police department in April 2003, officials said.

Prosecutors later decided to revisit the case, “and upon further review of the facts, evidence and law we believe we can now meet our burden of proof and move forward with charges,” a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office said Saturday.

If Garcia is convicted, he could face a sentence ranging from probation to five years in prison, prosecutors said.

Garcia’s attorney was not immediately available for comment Saturday night.

Garcia is expected back in court Feb. 8.

Upon receiving notification of the incident, COPA said it immediately requested Garcia be relieved of his police powers, which CPD approved.

COPA’s investigation ended Dec. 31 and the agency additionally requested that three other officers connected with the incident be relieved of their police powers.

“The Chicago Police Department is committed to treating all individuals, including arrestees in our custody, with dignity and respect,” a CPD spokesman said. “Superintendent David O. Brown has received the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s recommendations and they are under consideration.”

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