Supt. Brown moves to fire 4 cops implicated in choking incident

One of the officers, Louis Garcia, already faces a charge of official misconduct, accused of placing his hands over a detainee’s neck in the back of a squad car in 2019.

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Chicago police Supt. David Brown.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown welcomes recruits back as training resumes with social distancing precautions in place at the CPD Education & Training Academy, 1300 W. Jackson Blvd., Monday morning, July 6, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Chicago police Supt. David Brown has called for the firing of four officers who were involved in an incident in which one of them allegedly choked a handcuffed detainee in the back of a squad car.

That officer, Louis Garcia, already faces a criminal charge of official misconduct for his alleged role in the May 31, 2019, attack. Then last month, Brown formally moved to fire him and the three other cops implicated in the incident.

The Chicago Police Board will rule on whether to fire the officers in the coming months.

Garcia, an 18-year department veteran, was on patrol with another officer in the 8900 block of South Commercial Avenue when they saw a 42-year-old man standing in the street and blocking traffic, according to a Jan. 13 statement from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which also investigated.

During a struggle, Garcia choked the man in the back of a police vehicle while he was handcuffed, COPA found. Garcia was charged in January. 

During his initial court hearing, prosecutors said the struggle was sparked in part when the arrested man lobbed a racial slur at Garcia. “Who the f--- are you talking to? I’m a what lover?” prosecutors quoted Garcia as saying.

After Garcia placed his hands over the man’s neck for more than 10 seconds, Garcia’s partner intervened to remove the officer’s hands, prosecutors said. While en route to a police station, the man allegedly tried to bite the two cops, prompting Garcia to hit him in the face with his elbow.

Some of the incident was captured by Garcia’s partner’s body-worn camera, prosecutors said. And while the detainee never filed a report with COPA, the police department’s Force Review Unit later notified the agency.

Garcia is now also accused of breaking a list of departmental rules, including violating a law or ordinance, disobeying an order or directive and engaging in any unjustified verbal or physical altercation. Garcia has two previous sustained complaints in his background for excessive force and conducting an illegal search, according to the Invisible Institute.

The other patrolman, Manuel Giron, is charged with searching the detainee without justification, failing to record the entire incident on his body-worn camera and failing to report Garcia’s alleged use of excessive and unnecessary force, among other things. 

Sgt. Kevin Rake and Lt. Charles Daly are accused of failing to report the use of excessive force and failing to either adequately review it, complete a required report or both.

Garcia’s attorney, James McKay, insisted his client is innocent of the charges and claimed the superintendent’s move to fire him and his colleagues will have a damaging effect on the department’s already low morale. In addition, McKay noted that the man who was arrested later pleaded guilty to resisting or obstructing an officer and was sentenced to two days in the Cook County Jail.

Lawyers for the other three cops didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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