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No. 3 of 2012: North Chicago cops dismissed due to Hanna case

Fallout from the Nov. 13, 2011 death of Darrin “Dagwood” Hanna, who died a week after he was taken into custody by six North Chicago police officers, continued throughout 2012, bringing pressure from the community that ultimately forced the ouster of the department’s police chief and two other officers.

Former Police Chief Michael Newsome retired in February after he was placed on paid administrative leave Jan. 3 by Mayor Leon Rockingham, who also ordered a review of department policies and procedures. It was during that review that new Police Chief James Jackson discovered unexplained withdrawals from the department’s asset forfeiture fund. Newsome, 51, who served the department for 20 years, now stands accused of stealing more than $140,000 from that fund, money he allegedly used for personal expenses.

More changes were made after Rockingham ordered a review of all arrests involving use-of-force by police as numerous complaints of police brutality surfaced, some accompanied by evidence including the police department’s own video. Several officers were disciplined for misconduct and two were fired, including Brandon Yost, one of the arresting officers in the Hanna case. An internal investigation by the department found that Yost lied about his role in the arrest and that he repeatedly punched Hanna in the face after he placed him in a headlock.

Despite a finding by the Lake County State’s Attorney Office that police used reasonable force in the arrest, the Hanna family, fueled by autopsy results that revealed “trauma due to physical restraint” was a contributing factor in the death, held rallies and protests and packed meetings of the City Council. Hanna’s relatives have filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit. They continue to seek the dismissal of, and murder charges against, all officers involved in the arrest, during which Hanna, 45, allegedly was beaten and Tasered multiple times.

The North Chicago City Council made a formal request to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Illinois Attorney General to conduct investigations into an alleged pattern of excessive force by some of the city’s police officers and Rainbow Operation PUSH, led by Rev. Jesse Jackson, made several visits to the city calling for reform.

Rockingham has touted improvements to the department including, first and foremost, the hiring of Jackson, a former second-in-command with the Chicago Police Department, as well as new polices and procedures that require supervisory scrutiny of any use-of-force reports, regular training, and an overhaul of the citizen complaint process.

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