Even though what happened was caught on a security camera, our WGN Investigation shows answers are still missing.
It is tough to watch a man getting walloped. But as Cleveland Walker watches surveillance video of his own beating in our editing room at WGN it makes him pause, saying, “Wow!”
‘They are like ‘Turn over! Turn over! Turn over! That`s what everybody`s yelling,” Walker explains. “I`m yelling back, ‘I can`t turn over! He`s holding me! I can`t turn over!’”
The men on top are employees of the security firm hired by Chicago Housing Authority to keep the peace.
‘When I saw the first blow, his knuckles had handcuffs,” Walker said. “The back of the handcuff, that’s what I saw first. I tried to turn my head, but couldn’t quick enough because someone was behind me. And once I felt that blow, it dazed me hard.”
The CHA pays World Security Agency to keep out troublemakers – those put on its “barred list.” The security firm never returned our calls for comment.
But CHA did. Wendy Parks, the CHA spokeswoman, said “What I can tell you is Mr. Walker had an order of protection against him with respect to domestic violence. He was on our barred list and he was not allowed to go up into Dearborn Homes property.”
Walker doesn`t live in CHA housing, but his girlfriend and their two young kids do. That order of protection was filed a year ago by his girlfriend on behalf of the kids. The Dept of Children and Family Services was called in and a family plan was worked out to resolve the dispute.
Ever since, Walker`s been coming and going into the complex visiting with his kids as often as he wanted. That very morning, Walker says he was visiting and left his driver`s license in the CHA apartment.
So about that barred list?
Suppelsa: ‘Why didn’t you enforce it earlier that day?’
Parks: ‘All I know…
Suppelsa: ‘Why didn’t you enforce it the two weeks prior to that?
Parks: ‘There was an order of protection against him.’
No matter the question, we got the same answer over and over again from the CHA spokeswoman.
Suppelsa: ‘Why didn’t you order it that day or two weeks prior to that? You’re not answering my question.’
Parks: ‘What I know and the information that I have is that Mr. Walker entered that building with respect to that video that you and I both watched, he had an order of protection against him to not allow him on to CHA property.’
21 times she defended CHA’s actions by saying: ‘Mr. Walker had an order of protection.’
Remember, that morning Walker says he left his driver`s license upstairs. Later that day, he walked into the CHA building with some groceries, but without an ID the security guard is right to deny him entrance. The surveillance video shows Walker waiting and waiting for his girlfriend to come down with his ID. 18 minutes pass while he paces back and forth. His actions seem to get the guard agitated. At one point, it appears as if a second guard is gearing up by slapping his fist into his palm.
We asked the CHA spokesperson about pounding his fists into his palm:
Suppelsa: ‘What did that tell you? (Pop pop pop)
Parks: ‘Without audio, I can’t make any assumptions sir.’
Suppelsa: ‘Did you ask them?’
Parks: ‘Without audio…’
Suppelsa: ‘Did you ask the security firm that the CHA employs?’
Parks: ‘Without audio, no one can make an interpretation.’
Suppelsa: ‘Did you ask them what they were doing?’
Parks: ‘Currently, we are looking at all the situations with respect to the videotape. What I can tell you right now, here today, there’s no audio.’
On the video, the guard appears to gather support. A total of three guards gather. That’s when Walker says he heard them reference him.
“I heard, ‘Him. Him.’ Like, ‘HIM’. And he kind of glanced up and saw from my peripheral, that he kind of glanced up. That’s when I got the vibe, this ain’t going to be a good night. It`s not going to be a good night.”
Walker is not blameless. He admits he became flippant with the guard by questioning his authority to have him arrested.
Suppelsa: ‘If you wouldn’t have talked back with the, ‘how’d you get to be supervisor, you havin’ a bad day’, you think they still would have beaten you up?
Suppelsa: ‘You do?’
As the atmosphere becomes more charged, Walker starts to leave the building when the beating happened.
Suppelsa: ‘What did Cleveland Walker do in that video to deserve what physically happened to him as far as you can see?’
Parks: ‘What I can see, again, is that he was not allowed in to CHA buildings with respect to being on our barred list because he had an order of protection against him.
Suppelsa: ‘Did you see any punches thrown by Cleveland Walker?
Parks: ‘What I saw is that we have no audio!
Suppelsa: ‘That has nothing to do with video. Audio is hearing. What did you see on the video?
Parks: ‘I did not hear anything.
Suppelsa: that was not a peaceful arrest. ***add rest ***
Parks: My answer to you sir, again, is that Mr. Walker had an order of protection against him with respect to domestic violence and we are duty bound to make certain that all of our residents remain safe.
Suppelsa: Why wasn’t HE kept safe? This doesn’t look like you were “duty bound” to keep him safe (showing pictures to her, but not in camera shot). He was beaten up back and front. On that video. In THESE pictures. 3 on 1!
Parks: What I’ll say again to you sir, is that, with no audio, we don’t know what was said.
The Chicago police charged Walker with battery even though the video clearly shows he never lifted a finger.
“Why am I going to jail? They said, ‘You tried to beat us up. You was just here.’ I said, ‘Wait, you was too. I’m bleeding for no reason. I didn’t hit myself. Why aren’t you bleeding if I beat you up?’”
Walker`s hired attorneys Michael Mulligan and Frank Cece Jr to help get him off the CHA barred list. There is no lawsuit, but it`s under consideration.
“If you think the purpose of the banned list is to prevent him from being on the property, let him leave, which they didn’t,” Mulligan said. “So, I saw someone get assaulted, unprovoked. “
The battery charges against Walker were dropped.
“But if I fought back and hurt one, then my kids would have nowhere to live,” Walker said. “So I had to take the ass whoopin’ because they felt like doing it. Because they potentially – they weren`t proving a point. There was no point that needed to be proved.”
World Security isn’t the only security firm that works for the Chicago Housing Authority.
But for one high rise alone at Dearborn, according to CHA records, it paid World Security more than $2.8 million dollars last year.