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On June 5, 2011 Champaign police choked a 20 year old African-American man in the back seat of a squad car while he was in handcuffs. His crime? Asking why he had been stopped, roughed up, and pepper sprayed while walking in campus town.
The choking occurs at 2:31:25 am according to the time stamp, although the police begin to profile the man at 2:16:35. At 26:50:00 they pull up to several youth, nearly knocking them with their car. They grab the one youth who does not resist physically. At 2:27:08 they pepper spray him. 2:30:00 the youth continues to ask what he was doing and why he is under arrest. He explains that he was helping his sister home. At 2:31:25am you hear him say "Do not touch me sir!" after which you can see an officer jump on him, grab him by the throat, and choke him. Afterwards, you see the man pulled out of the car. When he returns his face appears covered in pepper spray, indicating they pepper sprayed him again while in handcuffs.
This video release comes just weeks after 18 year old Calvin Miller showed up at City Hall on crutches with a swollen eye and bumps on the back of his head. Calvin said police beat him while in handcuffs.
Another Youth, Gary McFarland, showed up at a press conference about police abuse a few days later with his jaw wired shut. His statement was that police broke his jaw while after they pepper sprayed him, threw him to the ground and put him in handcuffs.
Unlike Calvin's case, the City of Champaign has refused to release the squad car video in the June 5th incident, but it was been obtained anonymously and posted here.
The youth in this video submitted a complaint to the city; it was considered unfounded. After escalating pressure about police abuse, the City Manager and States Attorney have asked the State Police to review if there was misconduct. The State Police do not have a history of providing independent investigation that is trusted by the community.
In a recent press conference, the City Manager refused to answer questions about the choking or to release the video.
Dec 19th editors update: States Attorney Julia Reitz has said she will not prosecute the officer involved. When asked about the choking, she refered to the police report which claims the officer was attempting to clean off the arrestees face. The State Police found no voliation of policy. In the face of public pressure, Don Gerard, Mayor of Champaign, asked of FBI review, which found no civil rights violaitions. Both the State Police and FBI are law enforcement bodies which are not considered to be an independent body to provide review. The community has been calling for an civilian review board of police to provide independent oversight; a move the council may be considering in coming months. Meanwhile, the Champaign council is considering hiring outside, independent investigation of this use of force. They delayed voting on this until after the holidays.
Over 100 Stand with Calvin Miller
Probe Sought in Troubling Arrest
City Manager Refuses to Answer Questions About Police Abuse:
Video of Choking Arrest Leaked: