CHICAGO — The family of a teenager with autism allegedly hit in the head by a Chicago police officer filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday against the city, police, as well as the agency that investigates department complaints.
The lawsuit says two Chicago police officers in April chased Oscar Guzman, who was 16 at the time, into his family's restaurant in Little Village and "beat Oscar in the head" with a baton, despite family members' protests that Guzman had special needs.
His older sister Nubia Guzman said he has night terrors and fears law enforcement.
"How can I tell him (the police) will protect you if they are the ones who injured him?" she said.
The lawsuit also alleges a police sergeant at the scene had threatened Nubia Guzman with arrest when she asked for an explanation as to why the officers struck her brother.
A police report obtained by the Tribune stated that police officers on "aggressive patrol" in an area of "high gang activity" on April 22 saw Oscar Guzman standing on a corner and thought he might be armed because he "motioned toward his waistband and fled." Guzman, who was on a break while working at his family's restaurant, ran from police and into the kitchen. A police officer tried to "subdue" him by grabbing his wrist, and the teen struck the officer in the chest with his hands, the report stated. The police officer then attempted to strike Oscar Guzman on the shoulder but hit the teenager's head, the report stated.
Attorneys for the Guzman family dispute the account and say Oscar Guzman didn't hit the officer. The family has said the boy was frightened and avoids situations he doesn't understand by walking away.
The teen was not charged with a crime, and family members say police never explained to them why he was targeted.
The lawsuit also accuses the Independent Police Review Authority, the agency that investigates complaints against police, of using investigative techniques that favor police employees.
Police officials would not comment on the lawsuit because they said they have not received it. The Independent Police Review Authority also said they could not comment on the lawsuit because they too have not seen it but issued a statement.
The agency "will not sacrifice the thoroughness of an investigation in order to meet a timeline," said Mark Smith, first deputy chief administrator of the agency.