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Student Says Cops Were Out of Line

CHICAGO (CN) - A Chicago State University student claims a school police officer needlessly assaulted her and dragged her through the campus, telling her, "I'm the goddamn police."

Lisa Sweeney sued CSU police Officers Lawanda Burras and Pete Harris, in Federal Court.

Sweeney, who is African-American, says she got into an argument with another student in her math class in February 2011, prompting her professor to call university police.

She says defendants Burras and Pete Harris "escorted plaintiff from the classroom and into the hallway, where plaintiff sat on a bench."

She says she "felt threatened" when "Officers Burras and Harris shouted at plaintiff, demanding that she provide her CSU student identification number or show her student identification card ... and suggested that the defendant officers check her professor's class roster for her student identification number."

In response, she says, "Defendant Officer Harris shouted: I'm the goddamn police. Do what I fucking say; give me your fucking ID.'

"Plaintiff, still feeling threatened by the defendant's conduct, used her cell phone to call an attorney.

"Defendant Officer Harris then grabbed plaintiff's left arm and wrist and shouted 'Get off the damn phone, now!'

"Defendant Officer Burras then grabbed and twisted plaintiff's right wrist as defendant Officer Harris held and twisted the left wrist. ...

"Defendant Officer Harris then pushed defendant Officer Burras off plaintiff, picked plaintiff up from a seated position on the bench and slammed her body to the hallway floor.

"Plaintiff's head hit the floor and she was knocked unconscious, briefly.

"Defendant Officer Burras was standing on plaintiff's neck and shoulder when she regained consciousness shortly thereafter.

"Plaintiff found she was handcuffed after she regained consciousness. ...

"Defendant officers picked up Plaintiff from the floor and dragged her through Harold Washington Hall and outside to a CSU police car."

Sweeney says they took her to a Chicago Police station, where "her repeated requests to speak with her attorney were denied."

Sweeney was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. She says she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder, and requires ongoing psychiatric treatment.

She "suffered numerous emotional disturbances, including but not limited to sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, distressing dreams, flashbacks, frightening thoughts, and depressions," according to the complaint.

Her attorney, Damien Clark, with the Law Offices of Standish F. Willis, told Courthouse News he had "nothing to add" to the complaint.

Sweeney seeks punitive damages for excessive force, conspiracy, failure to prevent civil rights violation, false arrest, malicious prosecution, emotional distress, battery and assault.

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