A late-night scuffle between an off-duty Chicago police officer working as a Portillo’s security guard and a Canadian man capping off a night of watching the Blackhawks win the 2015 Stanley Cup might not at first blush look like the most serious case of alleged police misconduct being investigated by the Independent Police Review Authority.
Nobody was shot. Nobody was killed. Nobody suffered any long-term injuries.
Yet videos of the incident are sure to add to the perception of a Chicago Police Department that protects its own at the expense of the truth.
Those videos don’t corroborate official accounts of the case, which resulted in felony charges of aggravated battery of a police officer against the Canadian man even though he’s the one who took the beating.
The Portillo’s case was among a half dozen highlighted Friday by IPRA investigators amidst a massive data dump of video, audio and police reports of incidents involving confrontations between officers and citizens.
It happened just after midnight on June 16, 2015.
A few hours earlier, Terrence Clarke had watched at the United Center with his wife and adult son as the Blackhawks beat the Lightning to wrap up their third Stanley Cup title in six seasons.
Clarke, a business consultant from Baden, Ontario, was still wearing his Marian Hossa jersey as his family finished a late-night meal at the popular fast-food restaurant at Clark and Ontario.
Security videos show security guard Khaled Shaar, an off-duty Chicago cop wearing a T-shirt and shorts, moving through the still busy restaurant, telling patrons it was closing time.
Suddenly, Shaar stops, turns and goes directly to where Clarke is eating, as if Clarke had given him some lip. Shaar would later testify that Clarke declared he wasn’t going anywhere.
Shaar then is shown leaning in close to Clarke and taking something off his table. He testified he was removing Clarke’s garbage. Clarke’s lawyer, Kevin O’Reilly, says he took Clarke’s food.
The commotion caught the attention of another customer who started taking a cell phone video. That video is even more instructive.
It shows Shaar talking on his cell phone, which related audio reveals is him calling a police emergency operator to announce his intention to arrest Clarke for swearing and throwing a cup of cheese.
Clarke, still seated, is heard yelling something like: “Give me money back.”
Shaar then reaches for Clarke’s wrist to handcuff him. Clarke pulls away, shouting, “Get away from me,” before standing up to push him away.
The next thing you see is Shaar whaling on Clarke, including a particularly vicious right uppercut.
As Clarke’s son and wife try to intervene, Shaar shrieks, “Back up. He’s under arrest. Get on the f—— ground. Call 911.”
The video absolutely depicts Shaar as the aggressor.
Yet later he would tell investigators — and testify in court — that Clarke had picked up a chair and hit him with it. Nothing of the sort is shown in any of the videos.
Shaar, who suffered cuts to his hand from hitting Clarke with a fist holding handcuffs, would also testify that the injuries to his hand were caused by Clarke hitting him. That doesn’t show up on any video either.
What the videos show is a security guard in plain clothes wanting to go home and losing his patience because somebody got mouthy with him.
In case you’re wondering, Clarke’s lawyer said his client’s blood-alcohol level backed up his contention he’d had only one beer at the game.
Clarke later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct to get out from under the felony. He was sentenced to court supervision.
O’Reilly, his lawyer, said this is part of a pattern of Chicago police bringing felony charges against victims of police misconduct to pressure them to forget it.
And soon that will cost taxpayers another fat settlement check.