Video shows CPD officers confronting, striking teen on bike and fleeing the scene
On Thursday, July 1, there was a troubling incident in Park Ridge in which an off-duty Chicago police officer accused a 14-year-old Puerto Rican boy, the only youth of color in a group of teenage friends, of trying to steal the officer’s son’s bicycle outside a Starbucks in suburban Park Ridge. The cop pinned the boy to the sidewalk with his knee in the child’s back, until the teen’s companions protested that the Puerto Rican boy wasn’t trying to steal the cycle, and bravely pulled the adult off their friend. The family of the Puerto Rican boy, who’s an honor student and three-season athlete and active in his church, say he was racially profiled, and called for charges against the cop. Park Ridge and Chicago police say they’re investigating the case.
A Streetsblog reader recently notified us about another disturbing incident involving teens of color, bicycles, and alleged police violence. On the evening of Wednesday, July 6, a Facebook user posting under the name Tito Hernandez posted a point-of-view video shot from a bicycle he said shows kids riding bikes while officers in an unmarked car confronted them, hit one of them, and then drove away.
“This is to let everyone know how police act without knowing that they are being recorded,” Hernandez wrote on Facebook. “They fled the scene without checking if the kid on the bike that they [hit] was hurt or not. Something has to give to stop these officers from acting this way. Is it protect and serve, or just do what they want?”
A Facebook user named Sonia Hernandez, tagged in Tito Hernandez’s post (it’s not clear whether the two Hernandezes are related), reposted the video, stating that the teen who shot the video is her nephew, and thankfully he wasn’t seriously injured when the officer struck him. Sonia Hernandez said the police had confronted the boy because he had been riding his bike while using his phone. “Come on, really, there’s bigger things going on in this world” than kids breaking relatively minor traffic rules, she argued.
The video appears to show at least three teens, including the person who is filming, riding down a residential street in Chicago, with people in a light-gray SUV following them. One of the kids, wearing a white-and-black mottled t-shirt, is riding in the front of the group on an electric Divvy bike-share cycle. Another boy, wearing a white tank top, is riding behind the person filming on a road bike. The person filming is also on a road bike with straight handlebars, riding no-handed.
“F— 12,” says the teen who is filming, using slang for police. “Look at them. They know… they can’t do s—. Look at them… I wish they would do somethin’.”
The officer who’s driving the unmarked SUV catches up with them pulls up to the left of the teen who is filming.
Teen who’s filming: “What’s up?”
Cop: “[Unintelligible] on your phone?”
Teen who’s filming: “Yeah, I’m ridin’ on my phone, you see me riding on my phone, right?”
The driver then strikes the teen who is filming, and he loses his balance.
Teen who’s filming: “Goofy ass n—-, goofy ass n—-, you don’t know.” He falls. The driver backs away from the crash.
Teen who’s filming: “Uh huh. Uh huh. Caught that on camera boy.”
The teen in the white tank follows the slow-moving SUV on foot with a phone. The boy who was struck calls after the teen on foot, discouraging him from escalating the situation with the cops. “Anthony, nah, it’s chillin’, it’s cool.”
The police speed away as the kid who was filming starts riding again. “P—- ass b—-!” he calls after the officers.
The Streetsblog reader, who lives in Wicker Park, forwarded an email to us that he previously sent to Oscar Nufio, an investigator with Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, cc-ing Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) office (Hopkins’ ward includes parts of West Town) and Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office in the original email.
“I am writing in regards to the incident we discussed over the phone, in which two CPD officers struck a teenage bicyclist and fled the scene,” the Streetsblog reader said in the email to COPA. He included links to the social media posts. Here’s the second paragraph of the email:
In the video, officers in unmarked CPD vehicle MP 11 896 are seen following two cyclists. The officers then illegally enter the lane the cyclist is in to pull alongside them. Some words are exchanged, at which point the CPD officers strike the cyclist with their vehicle and flee the scene. At no point did the CPD officers activate their lights and sirens or make any indication they were going to perform an otherwise illegal driving maneuver. CPD officers made no indication that they were attempting to pull over or detain cyclists. CPD officers made no attempt to check if victims were hurt or to render medical assistance.
“Please ensure that this incident is fully investigated and that the officers involved are held responsible for their decision to strike a cyclist with their vehicle and then flee the scene (the latter is illegal whether the collision was intentional or not),” the Streetsblog reader added in his email to COPA. “Violence towards cyclists cannot continue to be tolerated in this city, and violence towards cyclists from the very public servants employed and paid to protect them is absolutely unacceptable.”
Streetsblog shared the text of the email to COPA with the Chicago Police Department’s News Affairs section, asking for the appropriate spokesperson to send follow-up questions. “An investigation has been initiated into this incident,” a police spokesperson responded. “We will not comment further due to the investigation.”
We expect to see more scrutiny of this highly troubling incident as other news outlets get wind of this story, and Streetsblog may run a follow-up article in the near future as we further investigate the case.