Hadi Abuatelah, teen beaten during Oak Lawn arrest, released from custody as prosecutors weigh charges against him

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County prosecutors haven’t decided if they will move forward with criminal charges against 17-year-old Hadi Abuatelah, the boy at the center of a violent and controversial police arrest in Oak Lawn.

After Abuatelah was released from the hospital on Monday, Oak Lawn Police announced he had been taken into custody on one count of felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest, and also with two counts of misdemeanor resisting arrest and possession of cannabis by a passenger in a motor vehicle.

Abuatelah made his first court appearance in Juvenile Court on Tuesday, but Cook County prosecutors said they haven’t decided if they’ll be moving forward with charges against him. He was released to the custody of his parents, and prosecutors have three weeks to decide on any charges against him.


The announcement came as dozens of Abuatelah’s supporters demonstrated outside the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, demanding his release, saying they are concerned about his health as he recovers from the significant injuries he suffered when he was beaten by officers last week. They believe he should be sent home to heal, rather than be locked up on criminal charges.

It all stems from his arrest last week, which was caught on cell phone video, as Oak Lawn police officers repeatedly punched the teen while he was pinned to the ground.

It happened after a traffic stop, when Abuatelah ran away from police before they caught up to him and tackled him to the ground.

Abuatelah’s family  has said they still don’t know what prompted that stop.

Meanwhile, Oak Lawn Police released dashcam video which shows the teen running. They claim he was reaching for something in a bag as officers tried to arrest him, adding that they found a loaded gun inside that bag.

Abuatelah’s family has now filed a federal civil suit, accusing Oak Lawn Police of using excessive force.

The lawsuit claims three unnamed Oak Lawn police officers of “extreme and outrageous conduct,” by repeatedly punching Abuatelah in the body, head, and face, after he’d already been tackled and pinned to the ground.

Abuatelah was hospitalized with internal bleeding in his brain, a fractured pelvis, broken nose, lacerations, and bruises after the violent arrest, according to the lawsuit.

Tuesday morning, community members and activists with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition gathered outside the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, calling for Abuatelah’s release.

“Oak Lawn Police had a choice to make yesterday. They could have done the right thing, and released Hadi into the custody of his parents yesterday. Instead, they decided to punish him further by transferring him to a juvenile detention facility overnight, and having him wait for a hearing. This is punitive. They’re trying to punish Hadi more,” said Muhammad Sankari, lead organizer with the Arab American Action Network.

Bishop Tavis Grant, national field director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said the video of Abuatelah’s arrest shows clear evidence of police brutality.

“They have him apprehended. You can see on the video the shots to the face. You can see on the video the knee and the various tactics that they used. This is a kid,” Grant said.

The Illinois State Police Zone 1 Public Integrity Task Force is investigating the incident at the request of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. At last check, the officers involved in Abuatelah’s rest were still patrolling as the probe continues.

Source: ChicagoCBS