The families of two Waukegan boys, who allege they were mistreated and threatened by police after they were taken into custody on Nov. 25, have filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Waukegan and two unnamed police detectives.
Jonathan Garcia, 13, said an officer smashed his cell phone into his face during an hours-long interrogation, the Lake County News-Sun is reporting. Giorgio Perez, 14, said he was strip-searched after being transported to the Hulse Juvenile Detention Center in Vernon Hills during an ordeal that lasted 10 hours.
Neither teen was charged in the incident that began after police discovered a broken window at a property several blocks away from the Perez residence in the 2700 block of Navajo Road on the city's north side, according to the lawsuit.
Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles did not return a call seeking comment. An attorney for the city, Chuck Smith, declined to release police reports on the arrests because the cases involve juveniles and charges are pending.
The boys, who are students at Jack Benny Middle School, spoke recently at a meeting of BAMM, Black Abolition Movement for the Mind, 801 McAlister Ave. in Waukegan. They said they were playing video games in the basement of the Perez home when police came to the door and asked to see their shoes.
The detectives allegedly told them that they had followed footsteps in the snow that led from several blocks away to the home. The boys said the men entered the home on what was a Monday afternoon and conducted a search without a warrant.
Transported to the Waukegan police station, Garcia said that after he refused to sign some papers, an officer used obscenities, grabbed him by his arm and his neck, forcing him to spit out his gum, kicked a chair out from under him, causing an injury to the back of his head and hit him in the face with Garcia's own cell phone.
Garcia later sought medical treatment for a broken nose.
Meanwhile, Perez, in another room, was threatened with juvenile detention. He said that after he was transported to the Hulse Juvenile Detention Center in Vernon Hills, he was strip-searched and told by a detective that a boy who was to be his cell mate had "sexually assaulted somebody."
Both boys said they repeatedly asked for their parents but were told they couldn't be reached.
"I told them I wanted my mother or an attorney here," Perez said. "They got mad and left."
Alicia Perez, who said her disabled mother was at home when the police entered without permission, said she tried for hours to find out what was happening with her son. A call finally came at 10 p.m. She picked up her son at the Juvenile Detention Center at 2 a.m. on Nov. 26.
"The Waukegan Police Department thinks they can basically do whatever they want to do," Perez said.
Filed in U.S. District Court on Monday, Dec. 16, the complaint alleges that in addition to Garcia's injuries, both boys suffered emotional trauma.
"This is an outrage," said O'Connor, whose Chicago firm has litigated about a dozen other complaints alleging police brutality against the city of North Chicago. "If officers are willing to beat a child into submission to get a confession, what will they do to an adult?"