Chicago police officer Joseph Cabrera on duty allegedly assaulted a man for parking on a public street.
A Chicago man who was violently assaulted by an off duty police officer has filed a lawsuit against the perpetrator and several of his colleagues.
The lawsuit was brought by Esael Morales and charged Chicago police officer Joseph Cabrera of excessive violence. It is also alleged that the unidentified officers on duty who responded to the call acted inappropriately, ransacked Morales and confiscated his possessions for no probable cause.
The city of Chicago is also named as a defendant.
According to The Chicago Tribune, Morales filed a lawsuit against Cabrera two days after being charged with heavy gun discharge and disorderly behavior.
Cabrera notes that the Tribune was likely drunk during his confrontation with Morales. In order to intimidate or injure Morales, Cabrera fired his service weapon at one point.
Thereafter, Cabrera allegedly lied about the events in order to protect both his freedom and professional integrity.
The Tribune reports that footage from body cameras sheds some light on what happened.
The videos, the Tribune says, show police responding to an emergency call in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood of Chicago. Both Cabrera and Morales are visible from the end of the street.
Downtown Chicago; Image courtesy of John Picken via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org
As the officers approached, Cabrera could be seen standing in the street, a gun tucked into his waistband. He immediately identified himself as a law enforcement agency before providing his badge and handing in his pistol.
“Nobody shot me,” said Cabrera to the officers who answered. “He started attacking me, me […] fired a round. “
“I don’t know,” he added, “I’m pretty upset right now.”
Cabrera then claimed he saw Morales and his girlfriend blow up a stop sign, after which he confronted the couple and asked if they needed help.
The officers then issued orders to Morales, who had moved away from the scene.
“I didn’t do anything, officer, he shot me,” said Morales. “Why are you handcuffing me? He shot me! “
Cabrera’s colleagues then said they were just trying to find out what had happened.
Morales’ lawsuit, however, provides for a different report: court documents state that Morales was parked with his girlfriend on a city street near the latter’s house. Some time later, Cabrera pulled up behind them, activated the high beam on his vehicle, and started turning his engine.
Cabrera finally got out of his car, went to the passenger door of Morales’ vehicle and asked what the couple was doing.
“Cabrera did not believe that Morales and his girlfriend had the right to be parked on the public street near where Cabrera lived that night,” the lawsuit said.
After a brief confrontation, Cabrera brandished a gun – he aimed and shot at Morales’ legs, but missed. Meanwhile, Morales’ girlfriend fled the scene.
While calling 911 after the incident admitting firing his gun, Cabrera “falsely” claimed that Morales had previously thrown him to the ground – a version of events shared by Morales, his girlfriend and a passerby who had walked a had been denied dog in the vicinity.
The lawsuit alleges the responding officers were negligent, saying they should have known Cabrera was clearly drunk. Although Cabrera reportedly stank of alcohol, the responding officers waited four hours before testing him for poisoning. By this point, Cabrera’s blood alcohol level had dropped to 0.104%, still above the Illinois limit for driving a motor vehicle.
Although Morales was never charged with a crime, his lawsuit alleges that the other officers arrested him overnight. He was put in a cell, repeatedly interrogated, and forced to make statements that would portray Cabrera in a favorable light.
“Unidentified officers interrogated Morales and urged him to change his story to say things that might help their colleague, the Defendant Cabrera,” the lawsuit said. “During the ‘police investigation’ that night and the next day, unidentified officers treated Morales and Cabrera differently than if Cabrera were not a Chicago cop.”
Cabrera will be represented in litigation through the Chicago taxpayer-sponsored legal department.
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