Chicago Man Bernard Kersh Faces Battery Charges After Police Slammed Him to Ground

A Chicago man, Bernard Kersh, faces charges of aggravated battery after police slammed him to the ground during a Thanksgiving Day arrest.

Kersh, who was reportedly stopped for drinking outside of a bus stop, also is charged with resisting police, simple assault and drinking alcohol in public. Civil rights activist Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. posted Kersh’s $500 bail Sunday through his organization, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which focuses on social justice. The officers involved in the incident have not been publicly named, but a statement by the Chicago police department says an officer has been relieved of police duty, pending a use of force investigation by the Chicago Office of Police Accountability.

A short video a passenger in a nearby car captured shows an officer wrapping his arms around Kersh’s torso and slamming him backward into the pavement. He appears to have hit his head and lies motionless against the curb. The statement by police calls the move an “emergency takedown.”

Jackson announced he would be attending Kersh’s hearing Sunday with a statement on Twitter.

“Unnecessary force could have cracked his skull,” Jackson said. “It raises alarm. No one deserves this kind of treatment.”

In another tweet, Jackson highlighted the double standards in retribution officers and civilians often face in violent encounters.

“If a civilian had done this to a P.O. it would be a different story,” Jackson said. “One set of rules matter.”

Police said officers in an unmarked car stopped Kersh for drinking outside of a bus stop, and that Kersh became violent and verbally abusive when the officers approached him. Police said Kersh spat on and threatened the officers.

Police say paramedics were “immediately notified” that Kersh was injured. In the photo police shared, Kersh appears to have swollen and bruised skin around his eyes.

Since 2017, the number of use of force incidents has gone down following a series of training sessions, according to the Chicago police department’s use of force statistics.

The department’s policy on use of force mandates that if officers use physical force against a subject, it must be “objectively reasonable, necessary and proportional” to “ensure the safety of a member or third person, stop an attack, make an arrest, control a subject or prevent escape.”

Anthony Guglielmi, the chief communications officer with the Chicago Police, posted a statement that said if the investigation proves the officers were in the wrong, they “will be held accountable.” Guglielmi added that citizens’ complaints “are being taken very seriously.”

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