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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Any Body Will Do for Chicago Cops

CHICAGO (CN) - Chicago police arrested, charged and sent a teenage boy to trial for aggravated battery and theft of a convenience store, without ever checking if he looked like the thief caught on the store's security camera, the teen, now a man, claims in court.

Darius Branch sued the Chicago, unknown police officers, Michael Pedroza, and MNE, Inc., dba The Super Discount, in Federal Court.

Branch was a student at Edwin Foreman High School in fall 2011.

He claims he was waiting to catch the bus to school on Oct. 18, when a police officer came out of a nearby convenience store, Andy's Super Discount, and "accosted Darius, threw him against a wall, searched him, and placed him in handcuffs."

The officer took Branch to the police station, where a detective told him "that there had been an altercation at Andy's Super Discount convenience store in the afternoon of October 14, 2011. Darius told the detective that he knew nothing about the altercation and, in fact, had been home sick with a fever on October 14, 2011, on antibiotics from the hospital, with his grandmother, mother, and older brother at home with him.

"Upon a review of the videotape from the store security camera, it is clear that plaintiff does not look like either of the two young men who were involved in the altercation.

"It does not appear that any police officer viewed this videotape prior to charging plaintiff," according to the complaint.

Branch says he spent the next five hours handcuffed to a bench at the station, when police notified his mother that her son was not in school, but in jail.

He spent the night in juvenile detention, and was charged with aggravated battery and retail theft, for allegedly striking a convenience store employee in the face with a tree branch, and stealing chips and soda, according to the complaint.

"As a result of his charges, the court issued a restraining order against Darius. He remained on home confinement, with his movement restricted, for many weeks. A probation officer checked in on him on a regular basis, and he was only allowed to go outside to school and church. Plaintiff missed several important school and social events because of his home confinement," the complaint states.

"Witnesses failed to come to court, so the charges against plaintiff continued hanging over his head for months, causing him much distress. Eventually there was a trial and a favorable termination of the charges against plaintiff, by a directed verdict and a finding of not guilty."

Branch seeks punitive damages for false arrest, illegal detention, failure to intervene, conspiracy and malicious prosecution.

He is represented by Irene Dymkar.

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