By Minyvonne Burke
Leroy Kennedy, of Chicago, said he was walking down the street “minding his own business” when two police officers violently arrested him, leaving bruises on his face.
Kennedy, a Black man, is now suing the Chicago Police Department claiming that the officers’ body camera video shows that he was not breaking any laws when he was taken into custody last August.
“We are seeking justice for Mr. Kennedy. We are also going to shine a spotlight on the corrosive ‘us against them’ mentality that Chicago police take into many Black and Latino neighborhoods,” his attorney, Christopher Smith, said in a statement.
The body camera footage was released by Smith and does not include audio in the first couple of minutes. The sound begins after Kennedy is arrested.
In the video, officers Ridgner and Abramson run toward Kennedy and stop him as he is walking down the sidewalk. It appears that Kennedy and the officers exchange words and one of the officers, a Black man, slams Kennedy against a brick wall.
The officer is then seen on the video taking Kennedy to the ground as the second officer tries to control a crowd that has gathered.
Kennedy is placed in handcuffs and put in the back of a police car, the video shows. The two officers then drive him a short distance to another location and call an ambulance.
Smith said Saturday that he does not know exactly what his client and the officers said to each other, but the arrest was not warranted.
According to the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, officers Ridgner and Abramson were patrolling the west side of the city around 5:30 p.m. when they arrested Kennedy. The suit says Kennedy was “minding his own business on the sidewalk” and “was not breaking any laws.”
It says Kennedy suffered injuries to his head and wrist and received treatment at the hospital.
After the arrest, the officers “conspired amongst each other about what to do,” the lawsuit states.
“In an illegal effort to justify their frightening attack on Mr. Kennedy, the defendant officers created false reports that claimed Mr. Kennedy committed multiple felony batteries against them,” it says.
According to a police report provided to NBC News by Smith, the officers wrote that they stopped Kennedy because he looked directly at them, stiffened his body and his eyes enlarged.
“Kennedy adjusted his hands and manipulated his front lap area,” the officers wrote, saying that they believed Kennedy might have been carrying a gun.
The police report states that Kennedy flailed his arms at Ridgner and yelled at him not to touch him.
Kennedy was arrested on two charges of resisting arrest and one charge of aggravated battery of a police officer. The charges were dropped in December.
The lawsuit states the charges were dropped because “there was no case” against Kennedy.
The Chicago Police Department said in a statement Saturday, “We cannot comment on pending or proposed litigation.” The agency did not respond to questions about whether officers Ridgner and Abramson faced disciplinary action over the arrest.
The officers could not be reached at phone numbers listed for them.
Smith said Saturday that his client has suffered trauma since the incident. He filed the lawsuit because he wants the police department to face accountability for the arrest and to address how its officers treat people on the west and south sides of Chicago, which are predominantly minority areas.
“We want the city, whether it be the mayor or the police, to examine how they have officers going into these neighborhoods with a plan to be ‘us against them’ beforehand,” Smith said. “We want it to stop on an overall level.”
Kennedy is seeking compensatory damages because the officers “acted maliciously, wantonly, or oppressively.”