Civil Rights October 10, 2018bhorwitz
How Could Quadriplegic Punch a Cop?
By: Frank Main The Chicago Sun-Times
July 25, 2008
Man claims police ‘were kicking me and punching me,’ even though he kept yelling, ‘I’m paralyzed’
A quadriplegic man sued the Chicago Police Department in federal court Thursday, claiming officers yanking him out of the passenger seat of a car in 2006, dragged him to the ground and beat him up even though he kept yelling “I’m paralyzed.”
“They were kicking me and punching me,” Daniel Casares said. “I was scared for my life.”
Casares, 28, can’t use his legs and his right hand – and his left arm and hand are “significantly paralyzed,” said his attorney, Blake Horwitz.
On October 9, 2006, Casares was a passenger in a car driven by his brother. They were parked in an alley in the 10300 block of Avenue M in the East Side neighborhood.
Casares said he was waiting for a man to bring him money for a car deal when officers approached. The cops suspected the men were smoking marijuana and told them to get out of the car, Horwitz said.
The brother was handcuffed and taken away. Drug charges were alter dropped, Horwitz said.
Casares told the officers at least four times that he was paralyzed, but they pulled him away from the car and beat him anyway, Horwitz said.
Judge James Brown convicted Casares of resisting arrest, and he got a year of court supervision.
Officer Belinda Bernal, one of the seven officers Casares is suing said in an arrest report that Casares punched her in the left eye “causing redness and bruising.” She changed her story at a bench trial, saying she was punched in the right side of the face, according to Horwitz.
The arrest report said the officers “used force reasonable to effect the arrest” of Casares and that he suffered “minor cuts to the head.” Horwitz said his client suffered “12 to 15 cuts” on his face.
The arrest report also accused Casares of using threatening language in an ambulance, allegedly telling an officer, “Next time I see your partner I’ll slap her again” and “I will rape your daughter and make you watch.”
Before he was paralyzed, Casares was arrested at least six times but not convicted, records show.
Bernal isn’t facing any other lawsuits, but three of her co-defendants have been sued in federal court for alleged police brutality, and the city has paid out settlements in some cases.
The officers appear to have been members of the Targeted Response Unit deployed across the city to fight crime in “hot spots.”
Another officer, William Cozzi, was recently charged with violating the civil rights of a man in a wheelchair. Cozzi was caught on a hospital security camera beating the drunk, unruly man.
“Unfortunately, no one was there with a video camera to record me getting beat up,” Casares said. “If you see the pictures, the evidence is there.”
A police spokeswoman said she could not comment on pending litigation.