Video has been released showing officers using a Taser on Phillip Coleman, a 38-year-old Chicago man who died in police custody in December 2012.
Coleman was arrested at his home in the West Pullman neighborhood on Dec. 12, 2012, for allegedly beating his 69-year old mother, according to police. Surveillance footage shows officers using a Taser on Coleman and dragging his body down a hallway while Coleman is handcuffed.
"I do not see how the manner in which Mr. Coleman was physically treated could possibly be acceptable," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement upon releasing reports and video connected to the incident. "While the Medical Examiner ruled that Mr. Coleman died accidentally as a result of treatment he received in the hospital, it does not excuse the way he was treated when he was in custody."
Police said Coleman became combative after being taken into custody and even spat blood at officers. Family members deny that he was spitting at officers, saying he was actually coughing up blood because of injuries suffered during the fight.
"Something is wrong here – either the actions of the officers who dragged Mr. Coleman, or the policies of the department," Emanuel said. "I have not received a sufficient answer on either from IPRA’s former leadership, and as a result I do not consider this case to be closed or the investigation into what happened that night to be over."
Coleman died from a fatal reaction to an antipsychotic drug, but an autopsy showed he had more than 50 bruises and abrasions to his body. Coleman's family said he was suffering from a severe mental breakdown at the time of the incident and needed to be hospitalized, not taken to jail.
"This matter is under investigation, as it should be," said Interim Police Supt. John Escalante. "Independent of the facts that led to his arrest or the actions at the hospital, we are held to a higher standard and we must strive to live up to it every day. While the independent investigation is ongoing we will be doing our own review of our policies and practices surrounding the response to mental health crises."
The video was released the same day the Department of Justice announced it will investigate the Chicago Police Department, spurred by the events surrounding the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014, but not limited to that alone.
Footage of McDonald's shooting lit a fire of protests in which citizens called for the mayor’s resignation.