Author’s Note: I wrote this piece last Thursday after watching a You-Tube of a Skokie, IL police officer push a female prisoner of slight build with considerable force across the floor of a holding cell, causing her to slam the right side of her face into the sitting surface of the concrete bench attached to the wall. She sustained serious injuries to facial bones and her right eye.
I posted it on www.Triblocal.com successfully but later discovered all the links to the story had been disabled.
In Skokie? You've got to be kidding me!
But there it was on You-Tube after 2.2 million views.
I must have watched it fifteen times. Now I do not count myself among the naifs of the world, but I admit being stunned, "This happens in Skokie?”
Hey but I get it. Police officers are often "un (der)" appreciated, verbally abused by so-called upright citizens, facing the possibility of mortal danger-no matter what shift they're working. A Sunday morning traffic stop on what promises to be a beautiful day. Moments later .".... Officer down, officer down!! So if the typical officer is kind of on the edge while on duty, I can understand that.
Skokie is very much a little big town in transition. Local crime seems to be on the ascent although the village government and the police department deny this. Skokie's demographics are changing with the introduction of "Section 8 housing".
'Oh, I get what you're saying, wink, wink, ...' to which I respond: " I don't care what you look like or what your beliefs are as long as you are peaceable and American law-abiding. Sure folks are in denial, local politicians are testing out the newest Denial/damage control software.
I could go on but won't. Back to this video-recorded incident in a Skokie police department holding cell. The camera is on the ceiling so your looking down onto this bizarre scene as it unfolds.
A female white, Skokie police arrested and charged Cassandra Feuerstein, 47, of Chicago with DUI. Officers found her slumped over the steering wheel asleep on the side of the road.
A woman of slight build, mid-length brown hair, wearing dark pants and a light blue long sleeve blouse, she is first shown being asked to remove her brassiere and shoes before booking. She does so and is ordered out of the cell. A corner camera from the other side of the room records the mug shot procedure.
"Look at the camera, " an officer instructs her, meaning his booking camera. Apparently she did not look directly into the camera.
“Look into the camera" but this time with some discernible impatience in his voice. It was unclear if she did or not but the focus quickly shifts to a uniformed male police officer, whom we later learn is Skokie Police Officer Michael Hart. He grabbed the prisoner at mid-arm length as if angry and escorts her back to holding cell number five.
Holding cell #5 ceiling camera takes over and spots the prisoner, still tightly held by Officer Hart. Beyond the threshold of the door when letting go of her arm would not have posed a threat to his safety, Officer Hart, his left hand positioned with his palm down just below her left shoulder and his right hand, palm up, his fingers touching her on her lower back at her waistline, pushed her forcibly headlong into the bench. She "flew" forward, striking it face down along the right side of her face.
Shown crumpled on the floor face down, Officer Hart reenters the cell and bends over beside her in an attempt to sit her up. Before he can leave the cell, a second male officer with a shorn head sits down on the floor behind the prisoner in what looks like an attempt to comfort her. Hart leaves but returns with a roll of toilet tissue and begins unraveling it to clean the prisoner who is badly bloodied. A female officer assists Hart.
Hart again turns to leave but instead turns around and walks over to the prisoner's shoes on the floor and straightens them up. The prisoner knocked them over herself after Hart pushed her.
Again he leaves but the female officer remains as does the second male officer who came in to offer some comfort and assistance to the prisoner.
Hart returns with the paramedics who, with the help of the bald-headed officer, remove the prisoner to the ambulance.
A regrettable incident indeed, yet an encouraging lesson in human kindness found even in a jail cell. Acknowledging the good, I thank the officer with the shorn head for being a mensch when a mensch was sorely needed.