A mother and son were cleared of misdemeanor battery charges tied to the videotaped altercation they had with two young women who had written “Biden 2020” in chalk on the sidewalk of a South Loop park.
Lorena Petani and 22-year-old son, Lucio Zapata, weren’t interested in commenting after they were found not guilty by Cook County Circuit Judge Robert Kuzas following a bench trial last week, their attorney said Tuesday.
“I think this is a chapter of their lives they would like to close and move on from,” lawyer Ed Wanderling said.
“I think the judge made 100% the right decision,” Wanderling also said.
Alexis Hadac, one of the women who said they were attacked by Petani and Zapata, called the judge’s decision “extremely disappointing.”
“From the start police minimized our injuries. It took them weeks to file a police report ... and later they had to correct the report” Hadac, now 20, said, adding that police initially recorded the wrong the date of when the incident took place in their records.
Hadac said she felt police didn’t take their complaint seriously because Petani’s husband is a police officer and noted that charges weren’t filed in the case until a reporter from Block Club Chicago questioned the police department about it.
The scuffle took place a day after President Joe Biden was elected in a contentious election against Donald Trump.
In the video recorded by the then 19-year-old women, Petani could be seen approaching and complaining that their drawing was “insulting,” although it wasn’t clear if it was the “Biden 2020” chalk work she was objecting to.
“Are we gonna have a war of Trump and cops versus BLM in a public park?” Petani asked. She also added, “My husband is a cop, too.”
“This is my park,” Petani is also heard saying on the video. “I doubt you pay as much as me [in taxes].”
In the video, one of the teen women is heard being dismissive of Petani’s comments and then is seen following Petani and telling her that she was recording her face.
Petani and that woman then appear to make contact with each other before the younger woman yells, “Call the police.”
According to the women, Petani and Zapata pushed them to the ground, a police report said. The woman who said she was attacked by Zapata said he punched her too, the report said.
Both women declined medical treatment at the time, police said at the time.
Hadac said she later went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion. She said she had medical records detailing her injuries, but said prosecutors didn’t think they were needed and never met with her before trial.
Officials with the state’s attorney’s office weren’t immediately available for comment.
Petani, 65, also suffered a bruised nose from the fight, according to Wanderling.
Hadac said Petani’s insistence that she and the other women were “tagging” and the way Petani claimed ownership of the park was particularly upsetting.
“She approached us,” Hadac said. “We weren’t looking for a fight.”