Footage has emerged of the moment police in Illinois restrain a man with a chokehold, before firing a Taser into his stomach and accusing him of faking unconsciousness.
The incident happened near the campus of Northern Illinois University. The video was recorded by the man’s girlfriend, Alyssa Retuerto, who later posted it online.
It’s unclear what happened before the video was shot, though four officers can be seen trying to restrain the man. One officer can be seen holding the man to the ground in a chokehold, as two others try to handcuff him, while a fourth, accompanied by a K-9, fires a Taser into his stomach.
You can watch it here:
The man, later identified as Elonte McDowell, appears to lose consciousness due to the chokehold. The officer can then be heard saying: ‘You’re okay, big boy. That’s a nice fake.’
The same officer then tells Retuerto: ‘Back up and don’t impede in my investigation.’ While another says: ‘Do you not understand that I have a dog in my hand and he will bite you?’
Speaking to NBC 5 Chicago after the incident, McDowell said he was pulled over by police and asked to step out of the car, though was not given a reason for it. When he complied, police tried to handcuff McDowell, who said he fell to the ground, which is when officers put him in the chokehold.
Though McDowell admitted to having marijuana in his vehicle, he and his girlfriend believe they were victims of police brutality, and that officers used excessive force during the incident.
In 2015, the state of Illinois passed a law which prohibits police officers from using chokeholds on members of the public ‘unless deadly force is justified’.
According to the law, a chokehold is defined as ‘direct pressure to the throat, windpipe, or airway of another with the intent to reduce or prevent the intake of air’. However, it does not include ‘contact with the neck that is not intended to reduce the intake of air.’
The officer who can be seen holding McDowell around the neck has apparently been ‘temporarily reassigned’, according to ABC 7.
In a statement, DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said McDowell was charged with felony drug offences and resisting arrest. McDowell was reportedly taken to jail and released the following day on bond.
DeKalb Police Department have said they are ‘reviewing all available video footage and statements regarding the use of force in this incident.’
McDowell told ABC 7: ‘It’s not OK. It needs to get out there. It happened one too many times. This happens every day.’
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.