OAK LAWN, Ill. – Attorneys and civil advocacy groups met on Wednesday morning in the Loop to announce their gratification with the Cook County grand jury’s decision to charge Oak Lawn police officer Patrick O’Donnell.
The officer is being charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct for the violent arrest of 17-year-old Hadi Abuatelah.
But they say the announcement of charges is only the beginning. Muhammad Sankari is with the Arab American Action Network and has been vocal since Abuatelah’s arrest last summer.
“We continue to call on our original demand that charges are brought on all three officers,” he said Wednesday. “Not just one officer who took part in the assault. All three need to be charged. All three need to be brought to justice. We will continue until justice is served.”
On July 27, officers conducted a traffic stop at 95th Street and McVicker Avenue. Oak Lawn Police say they pulled a car over with the teenage boy inside because officers smelled burnt cannabis and the car didn’t have a front registration. After they searched the driver, Abuatellah ran off, with officers immediately following.
A woman was passing by and recorded video that showed officers throwing several punches as they physically restrained the Abuatelah.
Days after the incident, the Oak Lawn Police Chief defended his officer’s actions, saying they were in line with their training.
“In no civilization, at no time or place on Earth, is this acceptable,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council On American Islamic Relations-Chicago.
While there is accountability for the misconduct of at least one officer involved, advocates are demanding more police oversight and asking departments to do more.
“Everyone involved, even the good apples, need to stand up and help us to weed out the bad ones,” Rehab said.
Lawyers on behalf of Abuatelah and his family have filed a federal lawsuit against Oak Lawn Police for excessive force and a racially motivated conspiracy to deprive Abuatelah of his Constitutional rights, among other claims.