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Suit: Man beaten during false arrest at Stroger

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Chicago Tribune
by Cynthia Dizikes

A man who says he was tackled and arrested for no reason by police at Stroger Hospital while on his way to a doctor’s appointment has filed a lawsuit against the hospital in Cook County Circuit Court.

James Spidle, 56, alleges in the lawsuit that he had just walked into the hospital to see his cardiologist at about 9:20 a.m. on August 9, 2010 when he noticed two people arguing near the door. As Spidle walked past those two, an officer with Stroger’s police force began yelling at him, the complaint states.

According to the lawsuit, Spidle told the officer he had done nothing wrong and attempted to continue to his appointment, prompting the officer to say, “You’re going to show me your I.D. if I have to lock your ass up.”

When Spidle attempted to walk away, several police officers jumped on his back and forced him to the ground, according to the lawsuit. Spidle alleges that the officers then stomped on his chest, dragged him to the hospital’s security office, grabbed him by the neck, and slammed him face first into the floor.

While in the security office, Spidle said that a lieutenant put a baton under his neck and said, “Move again (expletive delted), I’ll choke you to death.” The hospital police officers then dragged Spidle into a cell, threw him onto a bench, and handcuffed him, the complaint states.

Spidle alleges that he told the lieutenant that the surveillance video should show he did nothing wrong. After the lieutenant viewed the video, he returned to Spidle’s cell and told him “my officers had no reason to put their hands on you, you didn’t do anything,” according to the lawsuit.

Before they released him, Spidle alleges that he overheard the lieutenant yelling at the police officers for getting the “wrong man.”

A hospital spokesman declined to comment this week on the allegations in Spidle’s lawsuit.

The hospital police force came under scrutiny in 2007 after officers arrested a reporter covering a protest, and allegedly beat up a 77-year-old man who was waiting outside the facility for his wife.

There was subsequently an unsuccessful move to privatize hospital security.

Spidle is suing the hospital and “unknown Stroger Hospital police officers” for an unspecified amount of money, alleging that he was falsely arrested and suffered injuries, including rib contusions, wrist pain, ankle pain, and mental anguish.

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