'Innocent' man sues Ill. cops after forceful arrest

By Abdon M. Pallasch
The Chicago Sun-Times

CHICAGO — A federal lawsuit filed Friday accuses Dolton police officers of beating up an innocent man and lying about it.

The suit also alleges the Village of Dolton and its police department tried to cover up the crime.

David Smith's nose was broken and he had a concussion when he went to Ingalls Hospital after being released by Dolton police.

Smith, 29, was acquitted of disorderly conduct charges after prosecutors admitted an officer changed his story on the eve of trial, the suit says.

Among village and police officials named in the suit is Dolton Inspector General Bob Shaw, a candidate for Cook County assessor who said Friday he was not familiar with Smith's case. The lawsuit says Shaw "turned a blind eye to repeated instances of police misconduct."

Smith was arguing with a friend in the parking lot of Shark's restaurant on July 26 when officers slammed him on the hood of a squad car, punched him and threw him to the pavement, the lawsuit says.

Police handcuffed him and beat him, telling his friends to look away as they beat him, the lawsuit says. Someone called 911 to report police beating him, the lawsuit says. Police took a small bag of marijuana from a girl in Smith's group, the lawsuit says.

At the police station, Smith was thrown on a cell floor and lost consciousness, and his requests for medical attention were ignored, according to the lawsuit. Police ultimately charged him with possession of marijuana -- the bag taken from his friend, he said.

"I kept asking to be taken to the hospital, my nose was broken, and they didn't do anything," Smith said.

Police said Smith had struck himself on the cell door during processing. But doctors said his injuries could not have been caused by that.

Dolton police reportedly resisted turning over 911 tapes, videotapes of the lockup or police reports until they were ordered to release the items by a judge.

The village denied the existence of any 911 tape from a caller complaining that police were beating Smith. But an officer told Smith and the prosecutor as the trial was set to begin that there was a tape.

A judge ordered the tape turned over, but when the tape got there, no 911 call could be found and the officer said he never told the defense attorney and the prosecutor there was a 911 call, the lawsuit says.

Under the extraordinary circumstances, the prosecutor decided not to have the officer testify and to tell the jurors that the officer changed his story.

Smith's nose is still broken. He doesn't have health insurance to pay for surgery. He is a former Burger King manager who now works as a car detailer.

Copyright 2009 The Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.

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