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North Chicago fires one officer, suspends another in death of man in custody

Tribune reporters

North Chicago fired one police officer and suspended another today for their roles in the violent arrest of a man who died a week after he was taken into custody.

Officials immediately dismissed Officer Brandon Yost and suspended Officer Arthur Strong for 30 days without pay. Four other officers and one sergeant involved in the arrest who had been temporarily placed on desk duty were returned to regular duties without penalty.

The action comes in the case of Darrin "Dagwood" Hanna, 45, who was arrested Nov. 6 in his North Chicago apartment, where police said he slapped and tried to drown his pregnant girlfriend. He died in a hospital of multiple factors, according to the Lake County Coroner, including physical restraint and Taser shocks, as well as chronic cocaine abuse, hypertension, kidney disease and sickle cell disease.

His death prompted a public uproar, which led to an investigation by Illinois State Police. The Lake County State's Attorney's office concluded officers committed no crime, saying they acted "reasonably and appropriately" to subdue a large man police said rushed them with clenched fists yelling, "Shoot me."

Yost was fired for repeatedly punching Hanna in the face, which was unnecessary force, and for an unspecified falsification of reports on the incident, interim Chief James Jackson said. Strong's reported use of force, kneeling on the back of Hanna's legs, was considered acceptable, but he was disciplined for falsifying a report by indicating Hanna was swinging a flashlight.

Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr. and Jackson made the announcement at a news conference at North Chicago City Hall, where a crowd of protesters led by civil rights leader Jesse Jackson greeted the news angrily. People in the crowd yelled "cover up" and chanted, "murderers."

"These six officers should be fired and charged with murder," Jackson said.

TheU.S. Department of Justiceis conducting a preliminary inquiry into the case, which is a step short of a full investigation.

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