CHICAGO (CN) – Two Chicago cops kept assaulting a woman after one cop knocked her out, then falsely charged her with assaulting them – all in a dispute over a borrowed cable box, the woman claims in Federal Court.
Nicole Samuels and Ricco Acuna sued Chicago and its police Officers Christine Taylor and Carl Kirk.
During the incident in July 2011, Samuels and Acuna lived with their infant son on the South Side in an apartment directly below Taylor’s apartment, according to the complaint. Kirk did not live in the building, but was dating Taylor, the couple says.
“For reasons unknown, defendant Taylor began displaying hostility towards them – for a time prior to this incident both plaintiffs were harassed by defendant Taylor in various ways while defendant Taylor was on duty as a police officer (e.g. tickets, traffic stops, etc.),” the complaint states.
“Shortly before this incident, defendant Taylor’s animosity towards plaintiffs became focused on a cable box she had lent plaintiffs a year or more prior. On more than one occasion leading up to the incident defendant Taylor would bang on plaintiffs’ front and/or back doors and demand the cable box be returned.
“In the hopes of avoiding defendant Taylor, plaintiffs arranged for the building’s maintenance person to return the cable box.”
But before that happened, the couple says, Taylor banged on their door.
“Ms. Samuels approached the door and listened. Ms. Samuels heard defendant Taylor say words to the effect of: ‘go cut the power to [Ms. Samuels’] apartment – the heat will force her out.’
“Within a minute, the power in plaintiffs’ apartment was off. Plaintiff did not want to go outside, but plaintiff knew her child could not stay in the apartment on a hot July day without the ability to run the air conditioning or even a fan,” the complaint states.
“Ms. Samuels strapped her son into a high chair, grabbed her keys, and looked out the back door. Not seeing anyone, Ms. Samuels – still in her pajamas – decided to make a run for the breaker in the basement. …
“Upon entering the basement, Ms. Samuels was confronted by defendant Taylor’s teenage son and a man she had seen multiple times at Taylor’s apartment, now known to plaintiffs as defendant Carl Kirk.
“Immediately, defendant Kirk began yelling at Ms. Samuels about defendant Taylor’s cable box, so Ms. Samuels turned around and tried to make it back to her door,” the complaint states.
Samuels claims Taylor entered the basement then and said, “Give us your keys. Let us in or we’re going to arrest you. We’re police – don’t be stupid or we’ll lock you up.”
When she tried to escape, “Defendant Kirk pushed Ms. Samuels backwards and threw a barrage of punches to Ms. Samuels’ face and head, splitting her lips open and causing a large gash on her head,” according to the complaint.
“Ms. Samuels blacked out for a moment. When she came to, she was on the floor being hit by both defendants. Defendant Kirk put Ms. Samuels in a chokehold and attached one handcuff to Ms. Samuels. He then dragged her down the stairs into the foyer.
“For the next several minutes, defendant Kirk repeatedly abused Ms. Samuels while defendant Taylor stood by watching. Defendant Kirk threw Ms. Samuels against walls, picked her up merely to throw her back down, struck her, and stomped on her back while she was lying defenseless on the ground.”
When other police arrived, Samuels says, Kirk and Taylor accused her of assaulting them and she was taken to the station.
When Acuna arrived at the police station, “Kirk claimed Mr. Acuna physically threatened him, knowing the allegations were false,” and he too was charged with battery of a police officer, the plaintiffs claim.
The plaintiffs say they were acquitted at trial, and that “the judge stated he found the defendant officers’ testimony to be incredible and it was hard to believe they put their reputations on the line over a cable box.”
They seek damages for excessive force, false arrest, failure to intervene, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and assault and battery.
They are represented by Matthew Robison, with Barrido & Robison.