Chicago police officer attacked, feared using force over harming department image

A female Chicago police officer responding to an automobile accident on the city’s far West Side Wednesday morning was hospitalized, the victim of a brutal beating at the hands of a motorist who police say attempted to flee the scene.

After confronting a passenger in one car involved in the crash, the 17-year veteran was assaulted, but refused to use her service weapon over fear of besmirching the department, which is currently the target of a Justice Department probe.

According to police accounts and surveillance video of the attack, the 28-year-old man attacked the officer and slammed her head onto the pavement multiple times until she lost consciousness after she attempted to question him.  Two other officers were injured in the attack.

The unnamed officer’s refusal to use deadly force for fear of negative publicity is referred to as the “Ferguson effect,” in which police officers second guess use of force over concern of causing anti-police agitation and themselves being charged with a crime, leading to a rise in crime.

“She thought she was going to die, and she knew that she should shoot this guy, but she chose not to.  She didn’t want her family or the department to go through the scrutiny the next day on national news,”  Superintendent Eddie Johnson told an audience at a function honoring fireman and police officers.

“Because of the scrutiny going on nationwide, there [are] officers second-guessing themselves. That’s what we don’t want.  We have to change the narrative of the law enforcement across this country,”  he continued.

The attack occurred two days prior to the city unveiling its new department-wide police on use of force which states officers are prohibited from using force unless an “immediate threat” exists.  It is unclear when the new policy goes into effect.

Charges against Parta Huff,  the man accused of attacking the officers, are pending and Huff was ordered held without bail.

Charged with aggravated DUI in April, Huff was out on bail for the incident in which he ran a stop sign and crashed his vehicle.  Attempting to flee the scene, Huff had assaulted a Park Forest police officer.

Familiar to law enforcement, Huff has numerous prior arrests including three weapon charges and one for resisting arrest, resulting in one conviction.

 

[ABC 7-Chicago] [Photo courtesy Daily Kos]