OAK LAWN, Ill. — An Oak Lawn police officer now faces criminal charges seven months after video captured the beating of a teen amid an arrest.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports a Cook County grand jury indicted Officer Patrick O’Donnell Tuesday on counts of aggravated battery and official misconduct in connection to the arrest.
Muhammad Sankari, with the Arab American Action Network, called the move “a step in the right direction.” It comes after unrelenting pressure from advocates.
“We’ve been calling and meeting and everything with Kim Foxx’s office, saying that we want to see charges brought against these three officers,” Sankari said.
At this time, the two other officers involved have not been charged.
The arrest stems from a July 27, 2022 incident following a traffic stop at 95th Street and McVicker Avenue. Oak Lawn Police say they pulled a car over with 17-year-old Hadi Abuatellah inside because officers smelled burnt cannabis and the car didn’t have a front registration.
According to police, after officers searched the driver, Abuatellah ran off. Police soon followed.
During the teen’s arrest, police said he reached for a bag from which they later recovered a gun.
A female witness recorded video that showed officers throwing several punches as they physically restrained Abuatellah. She is even heard on the video saying, “Why are they beating him like this? It’s a little boy.”
Abuatelah’s injuries – a broken pelvis and bleeding on the brain – were considered severe. The high school senior’s lawyers told WGN News that he is still recovering.
“Knowing that he’s dealing with this really traumatic incident is definitely difficult for him,” said Emma Melton, an attorney with the Council On American Islamic Relations-Chicago.
Oak Lawn’s Police Chief Daniel Vittorio defended his officers in the days after the beating.
“Had the offender drawn that weapon, he could have shot them. What were they supposed to do – wait for him to pull it out?” Vittorio said.
As one of the officers involved now faces criminal accountability, Abuatelah’s lawyers are also pursuing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the department.
“It’s a pattern that needs to stop and we need to hold these officers accountable so that other officers know that this behavior is not tolerated and is completely unacceptable,” Melton said.
Abuatelah faced charges in juvenile court. His attorney said that the case had been adjudicated. An Oak Lawn division chief declined WGN News’ request for comment.
**WARNING: The video may be disturbing to watch. Viewer discretion is advised.