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Teen’s Violent Arrest Sparks Protests; Chief Says He Was Grabbing For Bag Which Held Gun

Oak Lawn, IL – Police officials are standing behind the officers featured in a violent arrest video of an armed teenager in Oak Lawn on Wednesday and have released dashcam video of the start of the incident (video below).

The family of 17-year-old Hadi Abuatelah said he was riding in the back seat of a friend’s car on July 27 when police pulled them over, CBS News reported.

Cell phone video posted to social media by bystanders showed three officers holding Abuatelah face down on the pavement and punching him, The New York Times reported.

Community members and activists were outraged and launched protests demanding the officers involved be criminally charged, WLS reported.

“He has fractures all of his face, he’s bruised, he’s in the hospital right now with a neck brace,” Abuatelah’s mother, Dena Natour, told reporters.

“Why did the police – over 300 pounds – attack my son that’s only 115 pounds?” she asked. “Why did they do that? It’s not called for. It’s not necessary. I want justice for my son. This is not acceptable.”

But Oak Lawn Police Chief Daniel Vittorio stood behind his officers and told reporters on Thursday that Abuatelah had a loaded gun in his possession when the videos of his apprehension were filmed, CBS News reported.

Chief Vittorio also released dashcam video from the incident – Oak Lawn police do not have bodycams – that showed what happened from the beginning of the traffic stop the officers initiated after they smelled burned marijuana coming from the suspect vehicle.

The dashcam showed officers got the driver out of the stopped vehicle and searched him for weapons.

The driver complied with officers’ orders and then went and stood at the rear of the vehicle as instructed, the video showed.

Then the officers got Abuatelah out of the car to search him, the police chief said.

“He appeared to be nervous and had an accessory bag draped over his shoulder,” Chief Vittorio said.

When officers started searching Abuatelah, dashcam video showed the teen fled.

Police chased the teen to the intersection of 95th Street and McVicker Avenue and tackled him when they caught up, The New York Times reported.

The police chief said that as Abuatelah struggled with officers on the ground, he kept reaching for his bag, CBS News reported.

Abuatelah “refused to listen to verbal commands which resulted in a physical confrontation with two officers,” according to Chief Vittorio.

The chief said the teen kept trying to get his hands on his bag as he fought the officers trying to detain him.

He said the officers thought Abuatelah was reaching for weapon and the bystanders’ videos showed them using control tactics to release the teen’s hands from the bag that held his gun, CBS News reported.

Chief Vittorio said Abuatelah didn’t stop resisting arrest until an officer deployed a stun gun.

Police released pictures of the pistol loaded with three bullets that was recovered from the boy’s satchel.

Police said Abuatelah was transported to the hospital for treatment after his arrest, The New York Times reported.

Two of the officers who arrested the teen were also injured in the altercation, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Zaid Abdallah, an attorney for Abuatelah, said his high-school senior client never pointed his gun at police, The New York Times reported.

“I can tell you for sure the firearm was never brandished, the firearm was never pointed,” Abdallah said.

Chief Vittorio said Oak Lawn police have launched an internal investigation into the incident and said the teen featured in the video would face charges, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“What concerns me is a 16-year-old running around with a gun,” the police chief said.

None of the officers involved in Abuatelah’s arrest have been suspended or placed on desk duty, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Chief Vittorio said two of the officers have not yet returned to patrol because they were recovering from injuries sustained during the teen’s arrest.

The third officer was working crowd control during the protests of Abuatelah’s arrest on July 29, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content:

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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