Woman sues after Chicago police drag her from car by hair

Midwest

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — A Black woman who says she was yanked by her hair from a car by Chicago police during a shopping mall encounter has filed a federal lawsuit against the city.

Mia Wright, 25, and four family members claim their civil rights were violated and assert the May 31 confrontation left her blind in one eye from flying glass caused by police breaking the windows of the car to get to its passengers.

“During this attack, Mia Wright could not breathe and was in paralyzing fear as her face and neck were smashed against the concrete ground,” says the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

The incident occurred during unrest in Chicago and around the nation following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. Police said they were responding to reports of looting at Brickyard Mall on Chicago’s Northwest Side when they came across a car containing Wright and others.

“We were women and we were viciously attacked by the Chicago Police Department,” claimant Tnika Tate said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.

Video recorded by a bystander shows police pulling Mia Wright out of the car by her hair and slamming her on the pavement reported NewsNation affiliate WGN.

“I saw Tnika and Mia dragged out of the car. The way the police acted was scary,” described witness Mary Shapiro.

Officers said they suspected the people in the car were there to “disturb the peace.” But Wright has said she and others in the vehicle were at the mall to shop for a birthday party and did not realize it had been closed because of the unrest.

“We waking up still with nightmares; just my cousin, she’s going through so many different things. She’s blind in one eye. It’s very very hard,” said Tate at a news conference, describing the incident as traumatic.

The lawsuit says video shot by a bystander shows two Chicago police officers huddling and talking before walking to Wright’s car and pulling her out of the car while other officers hurled profanities at her. One officer pressed his knee into Wright’s back as she lay prone on the ground.

“We are going to be asking for some serious compensation as well as punitive damages if the case goes far enough,” said attorney for the plaintiffs, Nenye Uche, at the press conference.

Wright was going to school to be a paramedic reported WGN and was initially charged with disorderly conduct, but prosecutors dropped that charge in September.  

Two officers have been relieved of their duties while the Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigates the case.

Chicago’s Law Department said Wednesday it hasn’t been served with a copy of the lawsuit and couldn’t comment. The Chicago Police Department also declined to comment.

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