CHICAGO — A Chicago police officer says in a lawsuit filed Monday that his bosses retaliated against him for refusing to change a police report to list a sergeant who shot and wounded an unarmed man with autism as the victim.
Sgt. Isaac Lambert was assigned to investigate the August 2017 shooting of Ricardo “Ricky” Hayes by Sgt. Khalil Muhammad who was off duty at the time. Hayes, who is black, was 18 when the shooting happened.
“They wanted me to have some reports changed to fit the narrative that they wanted,” said Lambert. “They wanted this kid charged with aggravated assault and the elements just weren’t there.”
In his lawsuit filed electronically in Cook County Circuit Court, Lambert said his bosses dumped him from the detective division last month, days after he refused to change the report, the Chicago Tribune reported. The lawsuit is against the city of Chicago. City officials could not be reached for comment Monday.
“Always tell the truth. Always do what’s right and don’t ever let some boss or someone who sits at an office all day at police headquarters, tell you to put your name on something that’s not right,” said Lambert. “You only have one reputation in life and make sure it’s something that you can be proud of and look yourself in the mirror every single day.”
Lambert says he believes Sergeant Muhammad used excessive force.
Muhammad is now on desk duty.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, is also investigating to see if the shooting was justified.
Surveillance video was released in October by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability that shows Muhammad shooting the unarmed Hayes, contradicting an initial police description of an armed confrontation. The grainy video was from a security camera on a home on Chicago’s South Side.
Hayes’ caretaker had called police to say Hayes had wandered away from home and that he has developmental disabilities.
Before the shooting, Hayes can be seen running along the sidewalk then stopping. Muhammad pulls up alongside, with parked cars between them. Hayes takes a few steps toward him and shoots Hayes in the arm and chest. Hayes turns and runs, despite his wounds.
In a federal lawsuit filed on Hayes’ behalf, Muhammad has denied any wrongdoing, court records show. He was placed indefinitely on paid desk duty after the shooting.
Lambert’s lawsuit alleges Muhammad called Hayes over to his personal vehicle after spotting him “skipping and running” near his residence about 5 a.m. Hayes, who was about 20 feet from the vehicle, took about four steps toward Muhammad’s vehicle when the sergeant opened fire.
Video from the home security camera shows Hayes never did anything to threaten Muhammad or give him any reason to open fire, Lambert alleges.
Later, at Area South detective headquarters, Muhammad “was not able to provide a coherent or believable explanation” for why he shot Hayes, according to Lambert’s lawsuit.