CHICAGO (CN) – Two men claim in court that Chicago police battered, strip-searched and falsely charged them of crimes they did not commit because they used cellphones to videotape a police officer who was driving on the wrong side of the road when he hit and injured a motorcyclist.
Benjamin Perez and Bobby Milton sued Chicago and nine police officers in Federal Court.
The men say they were talking outside with some friends in an early morning in August 2011 when a friend rode by on a motorcycle, heading south on Chicago Avenue.
“At the same time, defendant Captain [Kevin Navarro] was driving a marked Chicago Police Department vehicle, an SUV, northbound on South Chicago Avenue in the wrong lane of traffic, heading northbound in the southbound lane,” according to the complaint.
“Defendant Captain drove his police vehicle into plaintiffs’ friend, who was traveling southbound on his motorcycle, causing plaintiffs’ friend to suffer serious injury.”
Numerous police officers arrived quickly.
“Defendant officers observed plaintiffs using their cell phones to record the collision scene, and immediately took plaintiff Perez’s cell phone and placed handcuffs on him, taking him into custody even though Perez was not doing anything illegal,” the complaint states.
“Defendant officers placed Perez in the back of a police car and demanded that Perez show them how to delete the photographs he had taken with his cell phone.
“After plaintiff Perez was taken into custody, plaintiff Milton, who had also been using his cell phone to record the scene, was seated on his motorcycle, when defendant [Officers] Frahm and Hernandez approached him.
“Defendants Frahm and Hernandez grabbed plaintiff Milton, forced him off of his motorcycle, and threw him to the ground.
“Defendants Frahm and Hernandez placed plaintiff Milton in handcuffs, and then took him to a police car as well.”
At the police station, “Defendant officers demanded that plaintiff Perez provide them with the password to his cell phone, so that they could delete the pictures he had taken at the scene of the collision,” the complaint states.
“Defendant officers told plaintiff Perez that if he did not give them the password to his phone, he would be charged with a felony offense.
“Plaintiff Perez gave them the password, and defendant officers then deleted the pictures of the scene of the collision from plaintiff Perez’s cellphone.
“While at the station, defendant officers also strip searched plaintiff Perez, in an apparent effort to see if he had any other cameras or recording devices on his person.
“Defendant officers also demanded that plaintiff Milton give them the password for his cellular telephone.
“However, plaintiff Milton refused to do so.”
The cops then tried, unsuccessfully, to delete the video on Milton’s phone, and falsely accused him of battery and resisting arrest, and accused Perez of assault, according to the complaint.
Both men say they were acquitted.
They seek damages for false arrest, excessive force, unlawful search, conspiracy, false imprisonment, battery, and malicious prosecution.
They are represented by Torreya Hamilton.