Chicago Releases Video of Police Using a Taser on Man Who Later Died

PHOTO: Newly released video of Phillip Coleman’s last hours was made public on Dec. 7, 2015 in Chicago.PlayChicago Police Department
WATCH Video Raises Questions About Use of Force by Chicago Police

The Chicago Police Department has released a three-year-old video that appears to show police officers using a Taser on a man and dragging his limp body down a hallway while he was held in custody. The man later died in a hospital.

This is the third video involving questionable police behavior in Chicago in recent weeks. The first video, which showed the 2014 shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald, caused protests in the city and led to the firing of former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy. Jason Van Dyke, the police officer involved in McDonald's shooting, faces first-degree murder charges, for which he pleaded not guilty.

The head of the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigated the case, resigned over the weekend; the police department's chief of detectives retired this week.

The latest footage was released amid calls for transparency in the police department and mere hours after another video, appearing to show an officer fatally shooting 25-year-old Ronald Johnson in 2014, was made public by the Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. No charges were filed against that officer.

The incident in the video released Monday night took place in December of 2012, when the man, 38-year-old Phillip Coleman, was in custody for allegedly attacking his mother in their home and purportedly spitting on police officers when they arrived to arrest him, according to police reports.

The newly released footage, which has no audio, shows at least six officers entering Coleman's cell shortly before 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 12, 2012. Coleman is lying on his cell bunk when six Chicago police department employees come in, but sits up when they open the gate to his cell. At first, the officers appear to speak with Coleman, who seems to respond.

About a minute into the video, Coleman stands up, but quickly sits again. Immediately after, some of the officers restrain him. While he's lying down, the employees subdue him while one appears to use a Taser. Officers later appear to drag Coleman's limp body out of his cell and down the hallway, pulling him by his wrists -- an incident police now acknowledge shouldn't have occurred.

PHOTO: Newly released video of Phillip Coleman’s last hours was made public on Dec. 7, 2015 in Chicago.Chicago Police Department
Newly released video of Phillip Coleman’s last hours was made public on Dec. 7, 2015 in Chicago.

Coleman was taken to a local hospital, where an autopsy report shows he died from an allergic reaction to a sedative doctors administered. Security video from the hospital's emergency room entrance shows Coleman being wheeled into the hospital in a wheelchair.

The officers involved received a one-day suspension for what happened, but Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Monday that he does "not consider this case to be closed or the investigation into what happened that night to be over.”

In a statement he said: “I do not see how the manner in which Mr. Coleman was physically treated could possibly be acceptable...something is wrong here – either the actions of the officers who dragged Mr. Coleman, or the policies of the department."

But Percy Coleman said in a press conference Tuesday that what happened to his son was "criminal negligence" and "somebody" needs to be charged.

The Coleman family's attorney, Ed Fox, dismissed the administration's release of the video as a political move, saying officials are "desperate to start putting these things behind them."

The Chicago Police Department's patterns and practices are currently being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department. Use of force, particularly deadly force, and police accountability are the focus of the investigation, said U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday.

Hours after Lynch's announcement, Mayor Emanuel appointed Sharon Fairley to head the police review committee, one of the latest in a series of measures the embattled mayor has implemented since the McDonald case put the city and some of its officials under fire. The mayor is also pushing to expand the use of body cameras by police officers and to create a task force to examine and promote police accountability.

Interim Police Superintendent, John Escalante, said the Coleman investigation is ongoing, particularly since police said Coleman could have had mental issues.