CHICAGO — The ACLU of Illinois filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday alleging the city’s police reform efforts have neglected deep-seated issues on how officers are trained to handle people with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities.
Sounding a familiar tone already alleged in other pending litigation, the 53-page suit filed in U.S. District Court alleged the Chicago Police Department has a decades long record of mistreating minority citizens, with black and latino people disproportionately affected by shootings and police violence.
The suit alleged the brutality was “magnified for people with disabilities.” Nationally, an estimated 33 percent to 50 percent of those killed by police have a disability, with approximately 25 percent of people killed having a mental illness, the suit alleged. The problem also extends to police use of non-lethal force, including with Tasers, the ACLU contended.
“The City of Chicago deploys officers armed with guns and Tasers but not deployed with critical de-escalation skills, and in doing so subjects residents, police officers, and bystanders to harm,” the suit alleged.
The suit seeks a permanent injunction to block the city from continuing its current policies and practices “of using unlawful force against black and Latino people and individuals with disabilities.” It also seeks to have all court costs covered by taxpayers.
The ACLU’s litigation comes after two other lawsuits were filed against the city in recent months urging Mayor Rahm Emanuel to allow a federal judge to oversee reforms within the Police Department following heavy criticism from a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Chicago’s police practices.
The 164-page report, made public earlier this year, blasted the Police Department for its poor training of officers, lack of officer supervision and failures in adequately disciplining officers for misconduct.