Constitutional Law

Off-site security video saves woman from felony charge, is now evidence in federal civil rights case

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Updated: Afraid she was being robbed or attacked, Jianqing Klyzek began screaming as a group of men in plain clothes followed by uniformed police officers strode past the reception desk at the Copper Tan and Spa on the north side of Chicago last July and one grabbed her arm.

“What happened?” she asked, then became hysterical, shouting “f— you!” and “I want my lawyer!” during a prolonged struggle, the Chicago Sun-Times (sub. req.) reports.

“She bit me!” said one officer. “Guys, she scratched me!” said another.

Within seconds, the petite massage parlor manager was on her knees, with her hands cuffed behind her back. As she continued to scream, video footage shows, a police officer standing behind her slapped her head, a second asked, “Can I just Tase her? F— it. I can Tase her 10 f—ing times” and a third officer standing in front of her began yelling, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“You’re not a f—ing American,” the video shows him shouting at Klyzek. “I’ll put you in a UPS box and send you back to wherever the f— you came from!”

Although Klyzek later tried to explain to vice squad officers that she had been fearful for her safety, police scoffed and charged her with aggravated battery, according to the newspaper.

“Protect yourself from what? From the police?” one responded. “I don’t know how it is in your country, but in our country the police help.”

A state court judge dismissed the Cook County case after a preliminary hearing. So the police department sought and got a felony indictment against Klyzek for aggravated battery, saying that she had scratched and bitten officers, she contends in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in Chicago last week. But an off-site security video, which police are seen unsuccessfully searching for during the July raid, brought a swift conclusion to that case, too.

At the time of the grand jury investigation, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office was unaware of the video, a spokeswoman tells the Tribune. But prosecutors dropped the charge in January, once a defense lawyer gave them a copy. One police officer, the suit contends, lied to the grand jury.

The suit (PDF), which names the police department and 10 officers as defendants, says Klyzek suffered a cut, scratches and bruises during the July raid. Two of the three officers who surrounded her as she was on her knees and handcuffed, have been sued before for alleged abuse of an immigrant during an unrelated prostitution sting in 2008.

They could not be reached for comment but a police department spokesman told the Tribune that the allegations made by Klyzek are under review by the Independent Police Review Authority and that “the alleged comments, if true, are reprehensible and completely intolerable in our police department.”

A subsequent Chicago Tribune article says an unidentified officer involved in the alleged incident has been put on desk duty.

Related coverage: “Man whose case was dismissed after ‘Perry Mason’ moment in court sues 5 police officers over arrest” “Squad car dash cam shows deputies planning to plant drugs after illegal search found zilch, suit says”

Updated at 4:07 p.m. to include information from subsequent Chicago Tribune article.

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