NEWS

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January 27, 2006

Hospitals worker claims “cops” assaulted her

A nurse at the U of C Hospitals has filed a complaint with the Chicago Police Department (CPD), after reportedly being verbally abused and sexually assaulted by men who claimed to be Chicago Police Officers.

Mahal “Lynn” Yadao, 24, and a 27-year-old male friend were driving in the Hyde Park area on the night of January 19 when they were allegedly pulled over by an unmarked police car around the intersection of 47th Street and State Street.

In what she described as a “humiliating and overwhelming experience,” Yadao said she was told to take off her shirt, after which her friend was manhandled. “I have never experienced something that violated my civil rights [like this did],” she said.

The incident comes amidst upbeat news of a 14th consecutive year of decreased crime in Chicago. In a January 24 announcement, the CPD released data indicating that crime in Chicago dropped nearly seven percent in 2005. According to CPD statistics, the most significant decreases in crime last year involved thefts, arson, aggravated assaults, and criminal sexual assaults, which fell 7.9 percent.

“We’re proud of the progress and partnerships we’ve built that contribute to our crime-fighting strategies, and we’re reaching out to get more people, organizations, churches, and schools involved to keep that momentum going,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Philip J. Cline at a January 24 news conference. “The fact that there are 12,076 fewer victims of crime tells us that our crime fighting strategies are working and we continue to make real progress.”

Despite some thought that she and her friend were victims of police misconduct, Yadao noted that her attackers may have also been police impersonators.

“At this time, the Chicago police are not able to identify the assault as coming from their staff,” Yadao said in an e-mail interview.

Yadao has filed a complaint with the CPD’s Office of Professional Standards (OPS), alleging unwarranted search and detainment, misconduct in the form of verbal abuse and sexual assault, failure to provide a reason for being pulled over and searching personal belongings, and failure to produce badge numbers when asked.

“I would appreciate any opportunity to notify the Chicagoland area about misconduct of police officers or people impersonating them.”

According to a 2004 CPD annual report, allegations of officer misconduct are investigated by the Internal Affairs Division (IAD). In cases that allege excessive force or off-duty domestic disputes, complaints are referred to the OPS, according to the report.

“A Complaint Register number is issued whenever a complaint is investigated, and a determination is made as to whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain the allegation and take disciplinary action,” said the report.

Yadao’s case has begun the process of review and investigation from OPS administrators. “We probably wouldn’t comment on [the case] until the investigation is complete,” said an official from OPS, following the office’s privacy policy during an open case.

The 2004 annual report from OPS stated that out of 2,373 completed complaints to OPS and the Internal Affairs Division, only 101 were sustained, indicating that “the allegation was supported by sufficient evidence to justify disciplinary action.”

In coping with the trauma of the incident and the wait that would accompany an OPS investigation, Yadao is trying to make it possible for others to learn from her experience. “The public has the right to know,” she said.