Black man says racism led hospital security to accuse him of trying to steal IV drip equipment attached to his arm
Shaquille Dukes’ crime was “being in a hospital while black,” his attorney said.
The attorney representing a black pneumonia patient who was accused by a white security guard of trying to steal the IV stand that was attached to his arm outside a Northern Illinois hospital last month called for a criminal charge against his client to be dropped.
The June 9 incident — which occurred about 110 miles northwest of Chicago at Freeport Health Network — was captured on video.
“His crime from everything we see on the video is simply he was in a hospital while black,” attorney Ben Crump said Thursday during a news conference at a downtown Chicago hotel while standing next to his client, Shaquille Dukes.
Dukes, 24, who lived in Freeport at the time of the incident but now resides in Chicago, was still wearing his hospital gown when the security guard approached as Dukes returned to the hospital from a stroll outside with his brother and boyfriend. Like Dukes, the other two men are black and were also charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
“This security officer approached us and the first thing he said was not, ‘Hey, can I help you?’ or ‘What’s your name?’ but ‘Hey, what are you doing with that? Are you going to steal it and sell it on eBay?” Dukes said.
“After that it ... proceeded into something that it just really did not need to be,” Dukes continued, noting that Freeport police arrived minutes later and he ended up handcuffed in the back of a squad car without access to his inhaler, struggling with shortness of breath.
”We’re going to get charges dismissed and then explore every possible legal remedy available to these young men,” said Crump, who has not filed a lawsuit.
“What we hope is that the city of Freeport would exhibit some leadership here and not try to cover this up, not try to intellectually justify this discrimination.”
Crump said his law firm is continuing its investigation into what it claims was a racially motivated incident.
”There are all kind of constitutional violations here,” he said.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson also attended the news conference to show support for Dukes and call for people to mobilize in protest.
”There should be a sense of national outcry about this,” Jackson said.
The hospital, in a statement, said it could not comment on the case due to privacy reasons but noted that standard hospital “protocol does not permit admitted inpatients to leave the hospital or hospital grounds while under care.”
Dukes insists he received permission to go for a walk outside.
Freeport tapped Hazel Crest Police Chief Mitchell R. Davis to conduct an independent third party review of the matter.
Davis — who is black — found no evidence of police misconduct or racial bias in the arrests.
Instead, the security officer “would have been negligent in his duties had he not stopped to inquire into what Dukes was doing outside,” because he knew that leaving Freeport Health Network still attached to an IV is not allowed, Davis wrote.
Davis’ report was made public and sent to the Freeport Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, which can accept the findings and take no action, or hold a hearing to gather additional information.
The board meets July 23.
Dukes’ next court date is in August.