November 21, 2006

Charges erased after UCPD wrongfully arrests CPS teen

Charges have been dropped against Jemelle Lloyd, a 17-year-old black student at the Chicago Military Academy in Bronzeville, who said U of C Police Department (UCPD) officials mistakenly arrested him in connection with the assault of a University student on October 27.

Five of Lloyd’s friends, also black, were arrested in connection with the on-campus incident, and charges have been dropped against two of these students.

The teens “were wearing their ROTC uniforms—gold hoodies and green-and-gold jogging pants” when they were arrested, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The police officers stopped Lloyd—who has said he was walking two blocks away from where the assault occurred—because his school uniform matched the description provided by the victim.

“Jemelle was picked up by the University of Chicago police and wasn’t told what was happening until he was taken to the station,” said Lloyd’s mother, Suzette Lloyd, who was on the phone with her son when police arrested him. “One of the officers had his gun out, and then the other handcuffed Jemelle. No one read him his rights.”

Jemelle Lloyd had no prior arrest record, Suzette Lloyd said.

After the incident, the Chicago Military Academy in Bronzeville suspended Lloyd and the five students implicated in the assault. The principal of the Chicago Military Academy, Richard Gray, thought the allegations against the teens were grave enough that their presence at school would disrupt the academic environment, said Celeste Garrett, the director of communications for Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

While Lloyd served out his suspension and faced a possible expulsion hearing, CPS recommended that he attend an alternative high school at 6040 West Irving Park Road, 20 miles away from where Lloyd lives.

“When a student is referred for expulsion, a safe and alternative school is recommended based on the availability of seats at that school,” said Mike Vaughn, spokesman for CPS. The school is only a recommendation, and Lloyd’s family is free to send him to a school of their choosing while the expulsion hearing is being processed, Vaughn said.

The charges against three of the students, including Lloyd, have been dropped within the last two weeks, and the teens have been reinstated at the Military Academy, Vaughn said.

Though the charges have been dropped, Lloyd’s mother said the episode will have a lasting impact on her son.

“Jemelle’s trying to catch up on assignments, and he’s trying to get his things in order,” Suzette said. “He was going to be hired for a job, but after this, they didn’t want to hire him. We’re trying to get his records expunged, but we don’t have the money for that.”

Lloyd is most upset that no one has apologized to him, Suzette said.

UCPD Chief Rudy Nimocks was not available for comment.