FOX 32 NEWS - On Wednesday night, Evanston Police released dashcam video from 2015 that shows the arrest of an African American man who was suspected of stealing a car that turned out to be his own.
On October 10, 2015, Lawrence Crosby was working on his car around 7:00 PM when a woman passing by saw what she thought was an African American man breaking into a vehicle and stealing it. She called 9-1-1 and then followed the vehicle, relaying information to the dispatcher about the location.
"Hi somebody's trying to break into, somebody's trying to break into a car," the woman told the dispatcher. "I Think the person just got into the car."
Crosby, an engineering doctoral candidate at Northwestern University, was driving from his apartment to campus when he was stopped. He had his own dashcam video recording in his car, and before the stop, he can be heard talking to someone saying he thought he was being followed. He was reportedly headed to the police station because of those suspicions, when police pulled him over in a church parking lot.
The dashcam video shows him get out with his hands up with a cellphone in his hand and he then gets taken down by officers who thought they were dealing with someone who stole a car.
"On the ground... on the ground... down on the ground... down on the ground...turn around," the officers can be heard yelling as they knee Crosby to bring him to the ground and then punch him.
"I'm cooperating...sir, you're on video... that's an FYI," Crosby can be heard telling the officers. He had moved to the front of his car to put himself within view of his own camera.
Evanston Alderman Brian Miller, who is running for Mayor, said he was infuriated at what the video showed, particularly in light of the fact that there have been five incidents in the last two years where he says police have not de-escalated minor incidents.
He pushed for the release of the video and says this case needs to be a wakeup call for the Evanston Police Department.
"I understand being a police officer is a tough job, but we need them to exercise judgment in their day to day operations. And in this situation, within ten seconds of Mr. Crosby getting out of his car with his hands in the air, he was tackled, he was kneed while he was standing up, then he was punched repeatedly by multiple officers, for allegedly stealing his own car. Our police officers need to be better than that," Alderman Miller said.
Crosby was charged with resisting arrest and disobeying officer, but a judge threw out those charges. Crosby filed a civil rights lawsuit against Evanston Police in 2016 and that case is now pending.
Evanston Police found the use of force justified, but in light of this incident, they said the department has changed it's policy so that subjects do not need to be taken down by officers during an arrest.
Evanston Police issued a video statement on their YouTube channel, along with the dash cam video and 9-1-1 call.
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