A grieving father looking for answers said he intends to file suit against the Chicago Police Department for the death of his son Philip Coleman.
Percy Coleman, a former police chief for south suburban Robbins and Ford Heights, made his intentions known at a recent news conference at New Creation Binding and Loosing Ministries, 12900 S. Halsted St., which is led by Rev. Jolinda Wade, mother of Miami Heat basketball star Dwyane Wade.
“I will not stop until I get justice for my son. I am in the process of getting into this legally,” explained Percy Coleman. “Philip was not an animal or a criminal, but a human being who was having a mental breakdown.”
The retired law enforcement officer added that he has not eaten or slept since his son’s death on Dec. 13, when he went into cardiac arrest after being Tasered three times by police, Percy said. The Cook County medical examiner’s office has yet to release autopsy results.
According to Percy, on the day of his son’s arrest he subdued him to keep police, who had their guns pointed at Philip, from shooting him. “I told them (Chicago police) that my son was having an emotional breakdown and could they please take him to the hospital,” recalled Percy. “And that’s when one of the officers said ‘we do not do hospitals, we do jail.’ Unbelievable.”
Philip, 38, was the youngest of three siblings and died while in police custody after police said he “became combative” as they escorted him to court from the Calumet District police station on the city's South Side.
Melissa Stratton, a spokeswoman for Chicago police, said the “matter is under investigation by IPRA (Independent Police Review Authority).”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the civil rights organization Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, also attended the news conference and said he does not trust an investigation by IPRA.
“A special prosecutor should be appointed to this case just like the case involving Chicago Mayor Daley’s nephew (Richard Vanecko),” asserted Jackson. “Philip was a board member of Rainbow/PUSH and was very passionate about helping people. He fell ill and needed help and instead of getting help he got death.”
Not present at the news conference was Philip’s mother, who he initially attacked inside their far South Side home at the start of his breakdown, Percy said.
“I was walking through the alley when my son walked up to me crying. He hugged and kissed me and started talking fast. I could hardly understand him,” Percy said. “That’s when he fell to his knees and said, ‘anybody who hits their mom deserves to die.’ He then told me to shoot him. I knew then something was wrong.”
At the time Percy was unaware that Philip had attacked his wife, who called the police for assistance.
"Philip was bleeding from his mouth," Percy explained, “so he was spitting to clear his throat so he could breathe.”
Chicago police said Philip had spit on officers but Percy said he told police his son was not trying to spit on them.
“Do you know that when the ambulance arrived they took the police officers who said he had spit on them before they took my wife,” Percy said. “They got to the hospital before her and she was the one attacked.”
Jeffrey Coleman, Philip’s older brother, said his brother had graduated from Morgan Park High School, University of Chicago and earned a master’s degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago.
“Man, I miss him (Philip),” Jeffrey said. “I loved my brother and now I will never see him again."