The incident, recorded by a woman passing by, started with a traffic stop at 95th Street and McVicker Avenue around 6 p.m. Wednesday. Police said a teen got out of the car and fled down the street.
He was taken down by officers who threw several punches at the teen, later identified as 17-year-old Hadi Abuatellah. The woman who took the video asked to remain anonymous and said she saw the teen run and started recording. The woman says she was shocked to see what happened.
The video shows two officers holding down the boy and punching him in the face. A third cop then appears.
A woman is heard on the video saying, “Why are they beating him like this? It’s a little boy.”
At one point, the woman recording gets out of her vehicle to continue filming.
“This is a little kid,” she is heard saying. “I don’t know what the [expletive] happened.”
The woman adds that officers grabbed the teen and tackled him to the ground. Once they attacked him, one officer kicked the boy, and then the other grabbed his hair and started punching him in the face.
Oak Lawn Police say they pulled a car over with the teenage boy inside Wednesday because officers smelled burnt cannabis, and the car didn’t have a front registration. After they search the driver, Abuatellah runs off, with officers following.
Oak Lawn officers aren’t equipped with body cameras, and the dash cam video doesn’t show the moment an officer tackles the 17-year-old suspect to the ground. It does capture, however, the officers’ commands once the teen is pinned.
Oak Lawn police said after a brief chase, the teen refused to listen to verbal commands, which led to the physical confrontation with the two officers. Police say there on the pavement, the teen kept reaching for his bag, and they feared a gun was inside.
Officers appear to handcuff the suspect after using a taser on him. The video then shows one officer reaching into the black bag and pulling out a gun.
“Once they feared there was a weapon in there, that turned into a deadly force incident, so had the offender drawn that weapon, he could have shot them,” said “Oak Lawn Police Chief Daniel Vittorio. “What are they supposed to do, wait for him to pull it out?”
Vittorio says the gun had three rounds of ammunition inside and defended his officers’ actions.
The three officers seen on video have six, 12, and 15 years of service. One authority figure was identified as a field training officer. As of Thursday night, none of the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.
One of the officers was transported to a local hospital.
An internal use of force investigation is forthcoming, however. Police say charges are pending against the teen.
Protesters believe the officers used excessive force and demand they be fired. Advocates for the Arab-American Community say the case highlights ongoing racial profiling.
“Whatever the situation might have been, to put his life in danger when none of the other officers’ lives were in danger just has no justification whatsoever,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR Chicago).
Vittorio sees it differently.
“What concerns me is a 16-year-old running around with a gun,” the police chief said. “That’s what concerns me.”
Abultelh’s family shared photos of what he looked like before the incident and what he looked like after he was beaten. His mother said her son has internal bleeding, a broken nose, and a fractured back. According to the family, the rising high school senior in high school has been in and out of consciousness at Christ Medical Center.