Pastor files federal complaint against Round Lake Beach police after officer punched woman

  • The altercation between a Round Lake Beach officer and a woman on a gurney was recorded by a bystander.

    The altercation between a Round Lake Beach officer and a woman on a gurney was recorded by a bystander. Courtesy of Angela Heath

 
 
Updated 8/26/2020 4:58 PM

While Round Lake Beach police have not released any further details on an officer who punched a woman on a gurney Saturday, community activists Tuesday asked U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the police department for criminal misconduct.

Julie Contreras, pastor of Our Lady of Suyapa Sanctuary Methodist Church in Waukegan, sent a letter to the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice urging an emergency investigation of Round Lake Beach police. She cited Saturday's altercation and the case of a man who died in police custody in June; both cases involved Mexican Americans.

 

Contreras said the two incidents suggest a pattern of mistreatment against the Latino community.

On Saturday evening, Round Lake Beach police responded to a 911 call requesting assistance because a woman was experiencing a mental health crisis, according to a police department statement.

In a video recorded by a bystander, several first responders surround the woman, who is lying on a gurney. The video shows a police officer punching the woman's head three times. The officer, who is white, later says to the camera that the woman bit him.

Police Chief Gilbert Rivera said Tuesday the woman and the officer were both out of the hospital but declined to provide any statement on what happened Saturday or what has happened since. Rivera said he intends to release more information in a news release on Wednesday.

In the letter to the Department of Justice, Contreras refers to the Saturday punching incident as well as the case of Abel Rosiles, a 21-year-old Round Lake man who died after an encounter with police in June. Police said Rosiles ingested a bag of cocaine, but Contreras disputes that explanation and says police put unnecessary pressure on Rosiles' body.

Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper said Tuesday that the cause of Rosiles' death will be determined by a Lake County jury at an inquest in September or October.

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