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Chicago man calls for CPD officers' firings for his 2019 beating in police custody

Chicago man calls for CPD officers' firings for his 2019 beating in police custody
Chicago man calls for CPD officers' firings for his 2019 beating in police custody 02:52

CHICAGO (CBS) – Just days after the release of the video of a fatal police beating in Memphis, a Chicago man is releasing his own video of what happened to him while in Chicago police custody.

He said the video raises questions that should lead to the firing of two officers.

CBS 2's Chris Tye had the story and what's next.

Police typically search you for weapons at the time of an arrest, before you enter a cruiser, then again at the station before going into lockup.

But police wanted a third check on Damien Stewart. That led to an altercation he said was police picking on him, which led to more than a dozen punches to the head.

In May 2019 at Chicago's 4th District Police Station, Stewart was in cell D4. He'd been searched twice before falling asleep in his cell, when he said his arresting officers came back for another sweep.

"I thought that was kinda odd, because I was already searched, but I complied with the search again, even though I didn't want to," Stewart said. "It just led to them somehow assaulting me. I don't know how it even got that far."

Security video shows the incident escalated as one of the officers grazed Stewart's head, giving way to a verbal exchange, leading to over a dozen punches by the officers, many to Stewart's head.

In the minutes that followed, a supervisor was brought in. Later, Stewart said he was hospitalized but the injuries were not severe.

Man calls for Chicago police officers to be fired after they beat him in 2019 01:40

"It was close-handed fists," he said. "You see the video. They just struck me. I don't know why they struck me. I didn't say anything or make no aggressive movements."

He was in lockup after an illegal gun was found in his car after a traffic stop. Stewart is on house arrest for a more recent weapons charge, one that he disputes.

He settled with the city over the lockup assault, receiving $45,000. Now, he wants the officers fired.

CBS 2 asked two experts on police behavior to look at the video.

Cheryl Dorsey is a former Los Angeles Police Department sergeant.

"This person was already in a jail cell," Dorsey said. "Whatever he said to bother those officers should have not caused that kind of response. All they needed to do, and should have done, was walk out of that holding cell."

David Harris is a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

"Let's even assume there was a perfectly good reason for that search in the cell," Harris said. "There is no good reason for the officer to gratuitously reach out and grab that man's head, and that is what tips it over into violence."

Neither said this is a clear-cut reason for termination. Both said it is reason for CPD to investigate the officers inside the cell and those watching from the hall.

Dorsey said, "This was unnecessary, this was excessive. This was absolutely over the top."

Harris added, "The reason this gets my attention is because everything we are doing in law enforcement now is supposed to be keyed to de-escalating."

Late Tuesday, CBS 2 learned more details on the two officers inside the cell in 2019 from CPD. Sgt. Jerald Williams served a 15-day suspension in November of 2021. Officer Enrique Delgado Fernandez served a 10-day suspension in April 2022 following the disciplinary grievance process.

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