North Chicago community rallies against police violence - FOX 32 News Chicago

North Chicago community rallies against police violence

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LAKE COUNTY, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

About 50 people marched and protested at a rally Saturday in North Chicago against police violence in the city as a tribute to Darrin "Dagwood" Hanna, whose death at the hands of the police was ruled a homicide, and also to show support for other victims who have now filed lawsuits.

Chanting "Justice for Darrin! Justice for all!," the peaceful group gathered at city hall where attorney Kevin O'Connor, who represents Hanna and others, said that Mayor Leon Rockingham and the new Police Chief James Jackson are still not enforcing the rules. He cited how one officer named in two lawsuits was recently put up for promotion by the two, and the city's police board refused to promote him.

"They are just trying to settle cases, but not getting at the problem," he said. "The rules are not being enforced and they're not cleaning house," O'Connor said.

He filed a suit for Jerrad McGill, 32, of North Chicago, on Oct. 28 in U.S. District Court in Chicago. McGill claims he was beaten, harassed, Tasered and jailed on trumped-up charges. "He lost custody of his daughter because of this," he said.

Named as defendants in the suit are officers Arthur Strong; Johnny Parasain; and 19-year veteran of the force, Sgt. Sal Cecala, who both wrote and signed off on a use-of-force report on the arrest. The report alleges that McGill was wanted on two warrants under different names, and when he was spotted by patrol officers near Tee Pee Liquor Mart at 1801 MLK Drive in North Chicago, he took off running. According to the report, officers tackled McGill and used an arm bar on him in wresting his arms and hands from under his body.

The complaint says that McGill did not run or resist, that he was forced to the ground and placed in a arm bar after insisting the warrants were for his brother, and that he was Tasered while in the arm-bar hold. McGill also alleges that, after his arrest, Cecala entered his cell and ripped the Taser prongs from his back. His attorney, O'Connor, hopes to prove Taser use through video evidence on all 24 stun guns owned by the department, which a federal judge recently ordered the city to turn over, he said.

O'Connor said that McGill's arrest occurred 11 days before the controversial fatal beating of Darrin Hanna by several of the same police officers. He has filed a dozen suits against the city. "Part of it is the night crew. The night crew is in more than half those lawsuits," he said.

Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd also spoke at the rally, recounting his decision to change the cause of death for Hanna from unknown to homicide because the beating caused his kidneys to fail and that was why he died. He also mentioned the case of Melissa Calusinski, convicted of killing 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan at a Lincolnshire day-care facility.

"The pathologist signed an affidavit that he made a mistake," he said, referring to forensic pathologist Eupil Choi who said in a sworn affidavit that he missed an old injury that pre-dated January 14, 2009, the date of the boy's death. Her attorneys are fighting for a new trail.

"We need to continue to fight. We will eventually win both cases," he said, adding that State's Attorney Mike Nerheim has refused to reconsider several cases.

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