A police oversight agency found that a confrontation last year with a Black woman and a Chicago police officer at North Avenue Beach was not racially motivated, but still recommended that the officer be fired or suspended for excessive force.
The officer, Bruce Dyker, resigned last month before any formal disciplinary charges were handed down. He was later charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability said in a report released Thursday that available evidence could not establish that the woman, Nikkita Brown, “was treated differently from other similarly situated individuals of a nonprotected class” when Dyker demanded she leave the beach shortly after midnight on Aug. 28 as she walked her French bulldog.
Before his encounter with Brown, Dyker also gave an African American couple and four white or Hispanic males an order to leave the park, according to COPA. Dyker didn’t activate his body camera during these interactions.
The agency said it reviewed past complaints against Dyker and “couldn’t establish a pattern of misconduct directed at, or disproportionately impacting, members of a protected group such as African Americans.”
Dyker, who became a Chicago cop in 1998, had 25 complaints against him, including three that were sustained.
Brown has told the Sun-Times she believes the incident was racially motivated, and said she wanted to see Dyker fired and criminally prosecuted. She has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and police department.
COPA, which concluded its investigation in October, did find that Dyker behaved condescendingly throughout the encounter and that he used excessive force when he grabbed Brown by the arm, wrist and waist.
Video of the incident quickly went viral. Cellphone video, as well as footage from Dyker’s bodycam, show Dyker got out of his squad car and approached Brown to demand she leave the park because it was closed.
Brown begins to walk away from Dyker, who follows her.
“You need to move away from me, I feel threatened,” she said.
“Good,” Dyker responded.
“I’m about to put handcuffs on you if you don’t keep walking,” he said.
“Back up,” Brown told Dyker.
“Do you want to test me on this?” Dyker said.
“Back up,” Brown repeated before Dyker grabbed her and a physical confrontation ensued for more than a minute.
The report determined that Dyker used force not to arrest Brown but “for the unjustified purpose” of coercing her to leave the park and or take her phone to prevent her from recording him.
It admonished him for not using descalation techniques.