IPRA reopens investigation into Philip Coleman's death

CHICAGO (FOX 32/STMW/AP) - New video released late Monday night is raising more questions about the practices at the Chicago Police Department. 

The latest video in question shows six officers in a cell with 38-year-old Philip Coleman. One officer appears to use a stun gun on Coleman and another officer pulls his motionless body out of the cell by his arms. Coleman later died at an area hospital. 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has condemned Chicago Police officers for their treatment of Coleman, who was in custody after an officer used a stun gun to incapacitate him in 2012.

“I do not see how the manner in which Mr. Coleman was physically treated could possibly be acceptable,” the mayor said in a statement. “Something is wrong here — either the actions of the officers who dragged Mr. Coleman or the policies of the department.”

Coleman was being held in the cell for allegedly attacking his 69-year-old mother a day earlier. He was facing a felony charge of aggravated battery for allegedly hitting officers and spitting on them after they responded to the home.

Coleman allegedly struggled with officers who were trying to remove him from the cell for a court appearance on Dec. 13, 2012. One officer said Coleman told him, “Don’t touch me, devil!” according to a police report.

A sergeant ordered an officer to fire a Taser at Coleman so officers could put him in restraints and remove him from the cell, according to the report. He was shocked with three bursts of electricity, the report said.

After he was removed from the lockup, he was taken to Roseland Community Hospital, where he allegedly struggled with police. Once again, an officer used a stun gun to subdue him.

Coleman died hours later. The Cook County medical examiner’s office determined he died accidentally after the hospital gave him a combination of sedatives.

But Coleman's family believes his injuries at the hands of police contributed.

"It took three pages to list all the bruising and abrasions and swelling on his body," said the Coleman's family attorney, Ed Fox.

While the incident occurred three years ago, officials say the video is still under investigation.

His father, Percy Coleman, is a parole official in the Illinois Department of Corrections. He said the video “shows what’s been going on with the Chicago Police Department for years.”

“Chicago gangs and Chicago police think they can kill anybody in the community because they can — and it has to stop,” Coleman said.

Coleman said his family is considering filing a lawsuit against the city. He disputed the medical examiner’s ruling. He thinks the officers’ treatment of his son contributed to his death.

“They treated him like a dog. Our expert is telling us there are aggravated circumstances and the police did all of them. Without the police’s help my son would be alive,” he said.

Coleman says the younger Coleman was mentally ill and should have been taken to a hospital, not jail.

"He was told 'we don't do hospitals, we do jail,'" said Fox.

The elder Coleman also said police broke "every rule in the book" and that someone should be held responsible for the death.

"Somebody in the city needs to be responsible for killing my son. And the Chicago Police are at the head of the table," he said. "I invite the federal investigation to take a deep look at this because somebody should be charged."

Philip Coleman was a 1996 University of Chicago graduate who worked as a hospice executive, his family said.

IPRA told FOX 32 News they previously closed the case and justified the officer's actions. But now, acting chief administrator Sharon Fairley has reopened the investigation into Coleman's death.

"I have directed my team to reopen the investigation surrounding the treatment of Mr. Coleman to determine if the officers' actions are within department guidelines and, if so, whether policy changes are needed to avoid another incident like this in the future," Fairley said in a statement.

John Escalante, the acting police superintendent, also said the incident is again under investigation.

“We are held to a higher standard and must strive to live up to it every day. While the independent investigation is ongoing, we will be doing our own review of our policies and practices surrounding the response to mental health crises,” Escalante said.

Bishop Travis Grant, a spokesperson for the Coleman family, told FOX 32 News the family is horrified by the video footage and wants justice. 

"It goes beyond wrong, it is criminal," Grant said in an interview Tuesday morning. 

Coleman's family members say an autopsy showed numerous external and internal injuries.

The department’s release of the lockup video follows the city’s decision late last month to release the video of Officer Jason Van Dyke firing 16 shots into Laquan McDonald. The 17-year-old is holding a knife, but appears to move away from the officer when he is shot.

After the explosive video was released, Van Dyke was charged with murder, Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy was forced to resign and the U.S. Department of Justice announced an investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s “patterns and practices.”

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