Just more than a year after the violent—and ultimately wrongful—arrest of a black graduate student, the Evanston, Illinois, Police Department has released dash cam footage of the incident, which one local politician described as “outrageous.”
On October 10, 2015, Lawrence Crosby, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, was pulled over and arrested after he was accused of having stolen the car he was driving, the Daily Northwestern reported. The car, it turned out, belonged to Crosby himself.
In the footage released this week by the EPD, Crosby can be seen exiting his vehicle holding a phone in his upraised hands. When police instruct him to get down on the ground, Crosby begins moving to the front of his car to position himself in front of his own dashboard camera (which can be seen at certain points in the upper lefthand corner of the EPD footage). After not complying with their initial order to get down, Crosby is then grabbed by a group of at least five police officers, kneed until he drops, and—upon hitting the ground—is seen enduring a series of blows from one of the officers.
Officers can heard repeatedly telling Crosby to “stop resisting” while he is being tackled. As he is detained, Crosby tells the police they are on video, before calmly explaining who he is, and that the car belongs to him. He later begins arguing with the officers over whether his Fifth Amendment rights apply in this situation.
Off camera, the woman who initially called the police to report the possibly stolen vehicle is heard explaining her call.
“I feel really, I feel really, like, I didn’t mean to racial profile” she tells the officer, who replies that “he’s got a different issue going on right now.”
Speaking with CBS Chicago, Crosby’s attorney, Timothy J. Touhy, explained that his client was then taken to the police station and charged with “two criminal offenses, for which Lawrence had to stand trial and was acquitted.” Crosby is currently suing the city of Evanston, as well as the officers involved in his arrest, for false arrest and excessive force. EPD officials declined to comment on that lawsuit for the network, although CBS Chicago reports they are currently on full duty.
In a preamble to the dash cam footage, Evanston Police Department Sargent Dennis Leaks acknowledges that Crosby was given “some empty handed strikes to the heavy-muscle region” while on the ground, and that upon review by EPD officials, “it was determined that the force used in this incident was in compliance with our procedures as it pertains to this type of situation.”
Nevertheless, Crosby’s arrest has prompted a number of procedural changes within the department. In his introduction, Leaks went on to explain that “we will no longer require subjects to be proned [sic] during these types of stops.”
“We acknowledge and realize that there are some problematic issues that come with that,” Leaks continued. “Locations of the stop, weather conditions, and it gives a bad perception.”
Local alderman Brian Miller told CBS Chicago that the footage was “one of the most outrageous acts I’ve seen from our officers so far.”
“For two years, I’ve been talking about a pattern with the Evanston police officers not de-escalating minor incidents where it didn’t have to lead to arrest or (other charges),” Miller reportedly said during a city council meeting earlier this week. “If our police officers took a moment to step back and examine the circumstances and de-escalate situations we wouldn’t have these types of situations.”
According to the website Evanston Now, a number of changes to EPD policy and procedures are scheduled to be unveiled by city officials at an upcoming Evanston Human Services Committee meeting.
This post has been updated with video which protects the identity of the 911 caller.