Round Lake Beach Police hire outside firm to investigate punching of woman

  • This portion of a frame of a video taken by a bystander shows a Round Lake Beach officer rearing his arm back to a punch a woman on a gurney who he later said bit him in the leg.

    This portion of a frame of a video taken by a bystander shows a Round Lake Beach officer rearing his arm back to a punch a woman on a gurney who he later said bit him in the leg. Courtesy of Angela Heath

 
Daily Herald report
Updated 8/29/2020 2:44 PM

The Round Lake Beach Police Department has hired a Chicago firm to investigate how police handled a call to aid a woman in mental distress after video was posted online of a police office punching the woman, who he said was biting his leg.

Prescient, a risk management and intelligence services firm, will conduct a fully independent review, police said in a posting to the department's Facebook page.

 

The posting said the video was shocking and the officer has been placed on administrative leave. "Prescient will have full and complete access to the department and any information they require," the posting said.

On Tuesday, community activists said they were seeking a federal investigation.

Julie Contreras, pastor of Our Lady of Suyapa Sanctuary Methodist Church in Waukegan, said she sent a letter to the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice citing the altercation and the case of a man who died in police custody in June; both cases involved Mexican Americans.

On Aug. 22, 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.

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In the June case, police say Abel Rosiles, 21, of Round Lake ingested a bag of cocaine while he was in the process of being arrested, keeping him from breathing. He went into a coma and died a few days later. Community activists and the family questioned the police account of what happened.

Police also posted an update on Rosiles' death, saying that an independent team has completed its investigation and turned its findings over to the Lake County state's attorney's office, which will decide whether any of the findings are criminal. Police said they did not know what was in the report.

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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