Chicago, IL – The civilian police oversight board in Chicago has recommended that an officer accused of dragging a woman out of a car by her hair and kneeling on her back during the George Floyd riots in 2020 should be terminated for his actions.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) released a 22-page report on June 23 detailing the May 31, 2020 confrontation that occurred between Chicago police and a group of people inside a vehicle in the parking lot outside the Brickyard Mall , the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The report accused Chicago Police Officer David Laskus of lying about someone in the vehicle being armed with a hammer, and further alleged Officer Laskus lied about pulling one of the occupants, Mia Wright, out of the vehicle and throwing her onto the ground.
“Body worn camera footage clearly shows… Officer Laskus, who grabbed (Wright) by the end of her braided hair and pulled her to the ground,” COPA investigators wrote, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Officer Laskus fabricated the existence of the hammer to justify his actions.”
The civilian oversight board recommended Officer Laskus be fired over the incident.
COPA further determined that if he had still been working for the department, now-retired Chicago Police Officer Patrick Dwyer should also face termination for his role in the incident, the Chicago Sun-Tribune reported.
“COPA has grave concerns with Officer Dwyer’s misconduct given the racist, sexist, and derogatory nature of his remarks, as well as his decision to use them during a volatile situation while taking enforcement action,” the report read.
The board urged the department to make a record of the retired officer’s alleged actions and to place that record in his personnel file, just in case he ever tried to go back to work for the city of Chicago.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown filed disciplinary charges against Officer Laskus earlier in June and also recommended he be fired, according to the Associated Press.
The superintendent said Officer Laskus committed a total of 29 violations of CPD rules, including making a false report, using unreasonable force, engaging in an “unjustified verbal or physical altercation,” disobeying an order, violation of constitutional rights, criminal damage to property, and bringing discredit on the department, CBS News reported.
The Chicago Police Board will ultimately determine whether or not to accept Superintendent Brown’s recommendation to fire Officer Laskus, according to WMAQ.
That ruling is expected to come sometime in the next several weeks.
The confrontation occurred on May 31, 2020, several days after Floyd’s in the custody of the Minneapolis police sparked multiple riots and instances of looting that began in the downtown area and spread into multiple Chicago neighborhoods, WLS reported.
“To say that that day was chaotic is an understatement to what the city experienced when full civil unrest, when this whole city was under siege for nearly 24 hours straight, in an organized effort to completely destabilize our city,” Chicago Alderman Raymond Lopez later told CBS News.
According to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Wright, she and her four relatives drove over to the Brickyard Mall that day to go shopping and were unaware that the mall had been shut down due to the rioting, the Associated Press reported.
They claimed they were in the parking lot when police suddenly surrounded their vehicle and shattered the windows with their batons for no reason.
That was when Officer Laskus allegedly grabbed Wright by her hair and dragged her out of the car, then knelt on her neck, WLS reported.
Wright was held overnight at the police station, and it was unclear whether or not she faced any criminal charges in connection with the incident.
Police said they believed the occupants of the car were trying to break into the mall to take part in the widespread looting, according to Caroline Fronczk, an attorney representing the city.
Wright further claimed a shard of shattered glass caused by the officers busting out the car’s windows left her blinded in one eye, the Associated Press reported.
COPA concluded there was no evidence that anyone inside the vehicle was participating in the looting when they were confronted by police, CBS News reported.
Wright and her four relatives later received a $1.67 million settlement from the city after filing a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Under the terms of the settlement, Wright received $650,000, and each of the other four occupants in the vehicle received $243,750, CBS News reported.