Round Lake Beach officer caught on camera punching restrained woman in the head
Community members are calling for a Round Lake Beach police officer to be removed from active duty after he was captured on camera Saturday punching a woman in the head three times while she was on a gurney surrounded by first responders.
Round Lake Beach police did not comment Monday but said Saturday in a statement posted to Facebook that the woman had bitten the officer's leg.
Deputy Chief Wayne Wilde by email said Monday the department would release an update to the Saturday statement, which called the video "disturbing."
The confrontation happened Saturday evening after Round Lake Beach police responded to a 911 call requesting assistance because a woman was experiencing a mental health crisis, the department's statement said Saturday.
In the video, several first responders surround the woman, who is lying on a gurney. Around 20 seconds in, a police officer standing near the woman's head begins punching her in the head, getting off three blows within two seconds.
The officer later says to the camera the woman bit him.
"Did you tape the part where she bit me in the leg?" he says in a second video taken by the same person. "See the bite mark?" he says later, turning his leg and pointing near his knee, still covered by his uniform.
The video was shared widely on social media. On Sunday, a group of community leaders went to the Round Lake Beach police station to call for the officer to be removed from public duty.
"We want him to be disciplined. It would show to this community that this type of behavior is unacceptable," said Pastor Julie Contreras, of Our Lady of Suyapa Sanctuary Methodist Church in Wauconda. "He knew it was a 911 distress call for a mentally unstable individual who wanted to kill herself, yet he felt it was OK to hit her."
Contreras said she was appalled that a professional law enforcement officer would treat a person who suffers from mental health issues with violence.
The police department so far has defended the officer's actions.
"Striking a person who is actively biting an officer is within policy," the Saturday statement reads. "To ensure that all officers followed proper policies and procedures, the Round Lake Beach Police Department will look to have an external evaluation of the incident."
"It is disappointing that he is putting out press releases where he is condoning violence," Contreras said, referring to Round Lake Beach Police Chief Gilbert Rivera. "It was unnecessary force. ... He just needed to pull away from her. She was not latched on to him, she did not rip his pants, she did not rip his skin."
Contreras said hopefully something positive comes from this.
"Maybe now they will be trained and know how to handle mental health cases," Contreras said.