Civil suit alleges abuse at Chicago police detention center

AP News
|
Posted: Oct 19, 2015 8:50 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — Three Chicago men sued the city on Monday, alleging they were subject to physical and psychological abuse at a police detention and processing center.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District court in Chicago names the city and a half-dozen officers as defendants. It was filed on behalf of plaintiffs Atheris Mann, Jessie Patrick and Deanda Wilson by Flint Taylor, a prominent civil rights attorney based in Chicago.

The 18-page civil suit describes the Homan Square center on Chicago's west side as an "off the books police detention, interrogation, and intelligence gathering center."

A series of articles by British newspaper The Guardian this year prompted scrutiny of the Homan Square facility. The newspaper described the center in February as a "secretive warehouse" that is "the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site."

City officials challenged the Guardian description of the site as secretive, noting police have held news conferences in the complex for years. A police department spokesman said at the time: "The allegation that physical violence is a part of interviews with suspects is unequivocally false. It is offensive, and it is not supported by any facts whatsoever."

Monday's lawsuit also alleges "unconstitutionally coercive and torturous tactics" by officers at the complex, which it says includes handcuffing detainees to walls in dark cells, beatings and threats. And it says the men were denied immediate access to lawyers.

A spokesman for the city's laws department, which defends the city in legal matters, didn't have an immediate comment about the lawsuit on Monday.

The plaintiffs say police detained them on Oct. 21, 2013, and then transported them to the Homan Square center. After they allegedly refused to answer questions by interrogators, the suit says the three were charged with what it describes as bogus drug offenses.

The men were held in jail until a Cook County judge entered a finding of not guilty following prosecutors' presentation of evidence at a trial earlier this year, the lawsuit says.

It asks for the payment of unspecified damages.