Residents of Oak Lawn, a suburb in southwest Chicago, Illinois, are demanding justice after a disturbing video released on social media shows three police officers repeatedly striking a teenager as he lies on the ground.
The footage has sparked protests over “excessive force.” But Police are defending the actions that left a 17-year-old hospitalized, saying they found a loaded gun in his possession, CBS News reports. The video does not show police recovering a firearm during the incident.
Police Chief Daniel Vittorio said during a press conference on Thursday that the incident began when police pulled over a car in Oak Lawn at about 5:30pm on Wednesday. He said the officers detected a smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle. They began searching the driver and asked a backseat passenger, Hadi Abuataleh, to exit the car.
“He appeared to be nervous and had an accessory bag draped over his shoulder,” Vittorio said before adding that the teenager fled and several officers began a pursuit.
The video shows Abuataleh lying on the ground as one officer punches him in the head, and another kneeling on his leg. Vittorio said the teenager was refusing to let go of the bag.
“Once they feared for their safety and they had reasonable suspicion that he was armed with a weapon in that bag and he was not complying and was trying to open that bag, they were in fear for their safety,” he said.
Watch the report below from CBS News.