Two officers approach a suspect who opens fire on them. They return fire and strike the suspect. The suspect has now been shot. The police have him in cuffs and are searching him to determine where the gun is. The officer is patting him down. Another officer is standing near him. The officer who is doing the patdown hits his head on the other officer. Thinking it was the suspect who tried to strike him, he punches the man in the groin several times.
Bodycam footage does not show the suspect threatening the officer at the time of the arrest. The officer was relieved of duty and then charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct. However, a grand jury declined to file charges against the officer and so, the case has been dismissed.
Understanding the Problem
Once a suspect is in a restrained position, the police do not have the authority to beat the suspect. Today, the sensitivity to police brutality is at an all-time high. Prosecutions against police officers who commit battery during arrests are also at an all-time high. In some cases, not all of these prosecutions survive the legal process.
In order to prove battery, you have to 1) prove intentional malice 2) remove the defendant’s ability to assert self-defense. Self-defense is tricky because you do not have to actually be in danger for your life. You need only believe that you are in danger. In this case, the officers had just been shot at and they could not find the weapon. The officer who was doing that patdown was in a vulnerable position. His head is struck by some force and he assumes that the suspect is attempting to injure him. He immediately retaliates against the suspect. While it is unclear that they teach groin punches at the police academy, it is one way to render a suspect more pliable than they otherwise would be.
In other words, we have to take the officer’s perspective at face value. If he feels that he is under threat after being shot at, and responds to what he believes is aggression from a suspect, then he has not committed the crime of battery. Battery needs to be intentional and preclude self-defense. In this case, the prosecutors could not preclude self-defense and thus the grand jury declined to indict the officer.
There will be some question as to whether or not the officer violated department policy by delivering multiple groin punches, but he had good reason to believe his life was in danger and he had good reason to assume the suspect was causing him harm. So, ultimately, the officer was able to reasonably claim self-defense even after the suspect had been neutralized.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing serious criminal charges in the Chicago area, call Chicago criminal defense attorney David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.