Opening arguments will begin today concerning the civil suit of George Garcia, 22 years old, vs. the City of Chicago and individual police officers concerning police brutality, death threats, and the systematic cover-up of these illegal actions by the Chicago Police Department and the Office of Professional Standards.
On February 2, 2001, Garcia walked into the 20th District police station to report a threat by Officer Samir Oshana to beat him up after Garcia alleged that Oshana is a gang member. At the station, Garcia reported the existence of a photo showing Oshana flashing gang signs, saying that Oshana had been harassing him about it. Later that night, Oshana and another off-duty officer, Sargon Hewiyou, attacked Garcia in front of his 15-year-old brother and 12-year-old cousin. Officers Oshana and Hewiyou punched Garcia in the face and after he fell to the ground, kicked him very hard about his body, in front of at least six corroborating witnesses. As Garcia fled the scene, Oshana and Hewiyou threatened to shoot him with their guns, with Hewiyou drawing his gun and pointing it at Garcia. Garcia ran to the 20th District station again where, in spite of having multiple broken bones, officers failed to take meaningful action against Oshana or Hewiyou (the latter whose identity was unknown to Garcia at the time). Oshana subsequently threatened the 12-year-old cousin, another older cousin, and a friend of Garcia's. A cousin of Oshana's threatened Garcia with death.
The suit points to several facts-including a confession to the beating by Hewiyou-showing that officials in the Cook County States Attorney's office knew the identity of Garcia's attackers, but failed to act in a timely way against the officers. Only when forced by repeated court orders did they reveal the identity of Hewiyou to Garcia's attorneys. As a recent motion by Garcia's lawyers charges:
"There is strong evidence here of a policy and practice in Chicago to protect/shield off-duty police officers who commit violence against citizens, such that officers accused of battery are treated very differently than citizens accused of the same. Because of this institutionalized differential treatment, off-duty officers are encouraged to believe that they can use violence with impunity!"
Garcia's case is being tried by the law firm of Loevy and Loevy, and opening arguments are expected to begin at approximately 10-10:30 am, today in Judge Holderman's courtroom, 219 S. Dearborn, Room 2141, Chicago.
The Chicago Anti-Bashing Network is organizing support for Mr. Garcia and will be hosting a press conference at the conclusion of the trial. All opponents of police brutality and misconduct are invited to attend the press conference. To receive information about when specifically the press conference will be held, please send an e-mail to CABNstopthehate@aol.com so that we can keep you updated.