A group of Chicago police officers stand accused of committing a hate crime for physically and verbally assaulting an Asian-American woman with racist and disparaging comments during a raid of a tanning salon in 2013.
According to the complaint, filed in federal court, police burst into Copper Tan and Spa on suspicion that it was a site for prostitution and quickly tried to subdue 32-year-old salon manager Jianqing “Jessica” Klyzek, who started screaming at the officers. The lawsuit alleges that as Klyzek was handcuffed and kneeling on the ground, officers obstructed her mouth, struck, and threatened to Taser her, leaving multiple contusions.
As the Klyzek continued to scream, a police officer yelled racial and ethnic slurs and predicted that the owners of the salon would kill her and her family. “I’ll put you in a UPS box and send you back to wherever the f— you came from,” he said, as Klyzek pleaded that she was a citizen of the United States.
The exchange was captured by the salon’s surveillance footage and transcribed in Klyzek’s lawsuit:
POLICE OFFICER: You’re not f—— American! I’ll put you in a UPS box and send you back to wherever the f— you came from!
PLAINTIFF: I’m a citizen, OK?
POLICE OFFICER: No you’re not! No, you’re not a citizen! No, you’re not! No, you’re not! You’re here on our borrowed time. So mind your f—— business before I shut this whole f—— place down. And I’ll take this place and then whoever owns it will f—— kill you because they don’t care about you, OK? I’ll take this building. You’ll be dead and your family will be dead.
Authorities tried twice to convict Klyzek, who became a naturalized citizen in 2011, of aggravated battery and ordinance violations, but the charges were thrown out after prosecutors reviewed video from the arrest. One salon worker was charged with prostitution and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. The conviction was later expunged.
Meanwhile, a police review board is investigating the matter. “The alleged comments, if true, are reprehensible and completely intolerable in our police department,” Police spokesman Adam Collins told the Chicago Sun Times. “We have codes of conduct that apply to officers, and if the allegations are proven accurate appropriate action will be taken.”
On Tuesday, CBS News reported that the officer involved in the incident has been stripped of his police powers pending the outcome of the investigation.
The Chicago Police Department has faced numerous accusations of brutality, paying out millions of dollars to victims of assault.