Prosecutors allege the officer sought “retribution” for an earlier altercation
Another day means more problems for the Chicago Police Department.
A veteran Chicago police officer was arrested Tuesday and charged with official misconduct, a felony, after a video emerged of him punching and shoving a 24-year-old mentally disabled man in 2014.
A Jackson Park Hospital surveillance camera captured Officer Clauzell Gause – measuring in at 6 foot 6 and 235 pounds – attacking the patient who was already in handcuffs after allegedly assaulting the officer earlier, according to prosecutors.
The patient had been involuntarily admitted to the hospital to undergo a mental health evaluation, prosecutors said. While he was having blood pressure taken, the patient suddenly stood up and punched Gause in the face. A witness – presumed to be Gause’s partner – immediately subdued and handcuffed the patient.
Gause, 40, surrendered Tuesday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building and will face a charge of official misconduct which, if convicted, comes with a sentencing range from probation to up to five years in prison.
The video, reluctantly released by the Independent Police Review Authority after Cook County state’s attorney’s office initially declined, shows the assault lasting just a few seconds, but is nonetheless gruesome and entirely unprovoked.
Gause, wearing a bulletproof vest, shoves the handcuffed patient into a wall and is then knocked over immediately from a strong right punch from the officer. In a continued fit of rage, Gause then leans over the man and holds him down as he take two more punches at the victim with his left hand.
Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, said that a second uniformed officer witnessed the attack but is not expected to face charges.
Anthony Guglielmi, chief spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, said Gause was immediately relieved of his police powers and placed on paid desk duty, though it was inherently unclear if any additional disciplinary action was imposed at the time.
“The Chicago Police Department has zero tolerance for misconduct or any activity which undermines the integrity of our officers and our efforts to rebuild public trust,” Guglielmi said in a prepared statement.
The felony charge comes amid a reeling police force seeking to build trust with embattled communities city-wide amid spikes in violent crime and eroded confidence in law enforcement since the court-ordered release last November of LaQuan McDonald‘s fatal shooting by white police officer Jason Van Dyke. Months of protests resulted nationwide and Alvarez was ousted in March, in large part due to the efforts of activists in organizing large bases of minority voters redacting their previous support for her administration.
“You and I and those like us who chose a life of public service, we’re held to a higher standard,” said Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. speaking to Gause directly, “That’s the long and short of it. Whatever happened, happened. You have to face the consequences.”
According to city records, Gause amassed “at least” 11 complaints from November 2006 to June 2014, mostly alleging an excessive use of force.
Notably, the defendant was one of the 11 Chicago police officers named in a federal excessive-force lawsuit stemming from a December 2013 arrest where the victim was allegedly beaten with brass knuckle, stripped naked, and left in the cell for hours with a bloodied face and broken tooth.
Records show the city settled the lawsuit for $60,000 last December.