CHICAGO – A Chicago police officer’s obscene verbal tirade escalated into the officer’s physical assault and false arrest of a Chicago woman in June 2020, according to a federal lawsuit filed today. Chicago police are accused of unlawfully arresting Julie Campos, a Southside Latina resident—who was 19 years old at the time—at her place of employment, a Family Dollar store located on East 79th Street. The ACLU of Illinois (“ACLU”), the Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (“CCH”), and the law firm of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP are representing Ms. Campos in the lawsuit challenging false arrest.
Ms. Campos was working at the store on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, cleaning up property damage that had occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. The lawsuit asserts that, after Ms. Campos videoed the officer who physically assaulted her, Ms. Campos was falsely arrested on a trumped-up charge and unlawfully detained for hours—separated from her infant son.
“I was confused and scared throughout this entire experience,” said Ms. Campos. “It was shocking that just getting up and going to work could result in being arrested.”
“The body cam and other video of this incident show a CPD officer completely out of control. The City never should have allowed this officer onto the street,” said Joshua Levin, staff attorney for the ACLU. The officer has a lengthy history of civilian complaints, but never had been adequately disciplined or retrained by the Chicago Police Department.
Arturo Hernandez, a senior attorney at CCH, stated, “Ms. Campos, a young mother who was experiencing housing instability at the time, was at work trying to provide for her family when she endured this horrific experience at the hands of Chicago Police officers. This should not happen to anyone. If CPD doesn’t take action to adequately train their officers, or adequately discipline officers who engage in misconduct like the officers in this case—how will relations between the community and the police change?”
The officers’ body camera video shows CPD Officers Eric Taylor and Treacher Howard pulled into the store parking lot where employees were busy cleaning up so that the business could reopen to serve the community. Ms. Campos was making repeated trips in and out of the back entrance to throw out trash from the damaged store.
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While in the store parking lot, Officer Taylor instigated a shouting match with one of Ms. Campos’ coworkers. Officer Taylor made vulgar sexual comments about the employee’s mother and oral sex, using racist epithets.
“Officer Taylor’s dehumanizing language—and his completely unnecessary escalation of conflict with this community member—is maddening to watch,” Levin added. “These Chicagoans were at work just doing their jobs.”
After Officer Taylor’s argument with the employee, Ms. Campos continued cleaning the store. As she was carrying boxes through the store doorway to the dumpster, Ms. Campos came face-to-face with Officer Taylor, who was charging inside. Unbeknownst to Ms. Campos, Officer Taylor was looking to arrest Ms. Campos’ coworker, with whom he had instigated the earlier argument. Frightened by the officer coming toward her, Ms. Campos momentarily froze. Officer Taylor said “step back, step back,” then grabbed Ms. Campos, forcibly shoved her, and struck her face. As Ms. Campos fell backward, Officer Taylor, his partner Officer Howard, and other CPD officers entered the store. No one checked to see if Ms. Campos had been injured.
As Officer Taylor stomped through the store, Ms. Campos pulled out her phone and began recording him and saying that he had punched her. Although Ms. Campos had a First Amendment right to record Officer Taylor and criticize his misconduct, Officer Taylor approached her, twisted her arms—forcing her to stop recording—and placed her under arrest for purportedly obstructing a police officer.
“There was no legal basis whatsoever to arrest Ms. Campos for ‘obstructing an officer’; this was a blatant violation of Ms. Campos’s constitutional rights,” the ACLU’s Levin explained.
Ms. Campos was taken to a CPD station, where she was detained and physically restrained for nearly five hours. While holding Ms. Campos in custody, Officers Taylor and Howard refused to tell her when she would be released and when she would be able to see her one-year-old son again. Defendant Taylor even taunted Ms. Campos about her inability to contact her child or her child’s daycare while in custody.
Months later, the false charge against Ms. Campos was dropped.
“My hope is that this lawsuit will help make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Ms. Campos. “I’m concerned that something like this could happen to me again. But I’m more afraid for when my Latino son grows up. I’m afraid for what could happen to him if we continue to have police officers like Officer Taylor patrolling this city.”
“Not only was Ms. Campos arrested and detained when she did not do anything wrong, but the officers lied on the police reports. They fabricated information to cover up the false arrest—a widespread practice CPD officers use to conceal misconduct,” said Levin.
“This sort of behavior by CPD officers is the antithesis of public safety and constitutional policing,” Levin added. “And the City is directly responsible because it fails to adequately train, supervise, and discipline officers like Taylor who have egregious records of misconduct.” Officer Taylor has racked up more civilian complaints than 93% of other officers. Levin explained: “This case exemplifies the City’s systemic failure to take abusive officers off the streets.”
If you or someone you know is in a transitory living situation and needs legal support the Law Project can be reached weekdays on its toll-free helpline: 1 (800) 940-1119.
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Video of Police Cam footage: https://youtu.be/rCNyyBjFeoI