(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — The police chief of Oak Lawn on Thursday defended officers who were seen on camera repeatedly punching a teenage suspect after a traffic stop Wednesday.
The incident occurred around 5:30 p.m. when police curbed a vehicle, they say, for missing registration on its front. An officer who approached the vehicle could detect an odor of burnt cannabis, police said.
A 17-year-old rear passenger fled after being asked to exit the vehicle, police said. He was apprehended at 95th and McVicker, and a struggle ensued, authorities said.
Chief Daniel Vittorio said the teen, who is of Middle Eastern descent, had a shoulder bag and appeared to be try to retrieve something from the bag — a gun, it was assumed by officers. Officers did strike the teen and were attempting to gain control of his hands, Vittorio said.
On cell phone video, the suspect is belly-down on the ground, as one officer punches him in his upper back, followed by a second officer punching the young man in his face six times, including after grabbing the suspect’s hair to turn his face towards the officer.
“He would not comply and continued to attempt to access the bag,” the police chief told reporters Thursday evening.
The suspect was “drive-stunned” and taken into custody, he said. A gun was found in the bag, a .25-caliber weapon with three rounds, he said.
Police said a THC vape cartridge was also found on the teen, who, like one of the officers, was taken to the hospital for treatment.
An attorney for the boy’s family fault police for using too much force.
An investigation continues. Charges were expected to be filed, police said.