CHICAGO - A Chicago police officer is facing a 100-day suspension for kicking a handcuffed suspect during an arrest four years ago — actions he later blamed on the "high stress nature of the incident."
A review by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability found that Officer Jairam Ramkumar stomped and kicked the suspect "without justification" and failed to properly activate his body camera during the confrontation.
The police department responded that the recommended suspension "will be imposed."
Ramkumar and another officer were on patrol in an unmarked car on Sept. 10, 2018 when they noticed a scooter traveling without any visible registration and tried to pull it over, according to a summary report of COPA’s investigation.
After temporarily losing the scooter, the officers spotted the driver going the wrong way on North Lotus Street. The officers tried to stop him again but he collided with garbage cans in an alley and ran off, the report said.
While chasing the suspect, Ramkumar said he noticed him reaching for his waistband and, fearing he was reaching for a gun, discharged his Taser. The suspect continued reaching for his waistband as Ramkumar’s partner yelled, "Gun," according to COPA.
Ramkumar said he then used his Taser a second time. After the suspect was placed in handcuffs, Ramkumar began kicking and stomping him in the head, according to COPA.
The officer acknowledged his actions to COPA investigators and said they "occurred because of the high stress nature of the incident."
Ramkumar also admitted to not mentioning the incident in his "tactical response report," failing to timely activate his body camera and deactivating his body camera early.
COPA found that while Ramkumar was justified in using his Taser, he wasn’t justified in kicking the handcuffed suspect. "Direct mechanical techniques like kicking" are permitted only when "a subject who is using or threatening the use of force against another person or himself … is likely to cause physical injury," the report stated.
"Officer Ramkumar was required to deescalate any force," COPA wrote. "However, Officer Ramkumar failed to properly deescalate his use of force.
COPA recommended a two-day suspension for Ramkumar’s partner, noting that body cam footage showed him "in uniform and holding a cigarette in his mouth while he was in official contact with the public."
The agency cited him for being late in activating his camera and shutting it off early. The department said it would follow that recommendation as well.