The Village of Lynwood has fired a cop who allegedly punched a handcuffed prisoner inside the south suburb’s police station, in an altercation that was captured on video.
The decision by the village’s Fire and Police Commission came Jan. 22, a week after that disciplinary board ruled Sgt. Brandin Fredericksen acted improperly when he allegedly slugged the prisoner on Sept. 20, 2013, possibly knocking him unconscious.
The Better Government Association and CBS2 reported last September that Lynwood officials kept Fredericksen on the street for months after the incident that left the prisoner, Randolph Holmes, with a concussion and a broken nose.
That BGA/CBS2 report also noted initial police records didn’t mention that Fredericksen punched Holmes – though a supplementary report written after the BGA and CBS2 requested copies of the records does, suggesting there was an effort in Lynwood to hide what occurred.
It wasn’t until last July, 10 months after the incident, that Lynwood placed Fredericksen on administrative leave and initiated disciplinary proceedings.
Lynwood police officer is shown on surveillance footage allegedly shoving, punching handcuffed prisoner inside police station. Did officials try to cover up the incident?
The move followed the hiring of a new police chief and repeated inquiries by the BGA and CBS2.
Lynwood police and municipal officials had no comment this past week.
Reached by phone, Fredericksen referred questions to his attorney Dan Herbert, who says Fredericksen will appeal his firing in Cook County Circuit Court.
“Quite frankly, we feel pretty confident that we’re going to have the decision reversed,” Herbert says.
The office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez had been aware of the incident and video from almost the start but hasn’t pursued criminal charges against Fredericksen. In September, an Alvarez spokeswoman said the matter was under investigation.
Herbert says prosecutors have not interviewed Fredericksen. “It would blow my mind” if he was criminally charged, he says.
Alvarez’s office has come under scrutiny for its handling of police abuse allegations. In a recent high-profile case, she filed criminal charges against a Park Forest police officer who shot a 95-year-old knife-wielding man with beanbag rounds. The man later died. But Alvarez has been criticized for not indicting more officers who have been accused of crimes. Her spokeswoman didn’t return messages.
Shortly before the Lynwood police station incident, Holmes was arrested for domestic battery and an outstanding warrant. Holmes has a lengthy criminal history, and he was drunk and on drugs when he was arrested, according to police and medical records.
Video footage from a surveillance camera inside the station shows Holmes and an officer quarreling in a booking room and the same officer shoving the handcuffed Holmes into a door. Separate footage, shot inside an attached police garage, shows an officer apparently striking Holmes with his arm or fist. The handcuffed prisoner’s knees buckle and he falls to the ground, appearing to be momentarily unconscious.
The BGA and CBS2 confirmed the officer was Fredericksen.
Alvarez’s office charged Holmes with aggravated battery of a police officer, a felony, for allegedly spitting on the officer just prior to the alleged punch, records show. He pleaded guilty to resisting a police officer and was sentenced to a year in prison, though he was given credit for the time he had spent in Cook County Jail awaiting disposition of the case.
Holmes has since filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Lynwood Police Department, Fredericksen and another officer who witnessed some of the encounter. That case is still pending, records show.
This story was written and reported by the Better Government Association’s Andrew Schroedter, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 821-9035.
Photo courtesy of Lynwood Police Department