The Chicago Police Board on Thursday voted unanimously to fire a CPD officer who they found pulled a young woman from a car by her hair and knelt on her neck in the parking lot of the Brickyard Mall on the Northwest Side during the unrest of summer 2020.
The board found that CPD officer David Laskus violated several CPD rules — most notably using excessive force and lying to investigators — during and after the tense situation that unfolded on May 26, 2020 at the shopping center near Diversey and Narragansett.
Mia Wright, now 29, and members of her family previously said they arrived at the Brickyard Mall in late May 2020 to discover it closed because of civil unrest that occurred across the city in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder by a Minnesota police officer.
After they arrived, CPD officers suddenly surrounded the car, broke the windows and pulled Wright out of the vehicle by her hair, she said.
While Wright was prone on the ground, an officer placed his knee on her neck, she said. She was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, though the charge was later dropped.
Despite video evidence to the contrary, the board noted that Laskus denied he pulled Wright by her hair when he spoke to investigators with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. He did not face criminal charges.
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“Respondent’s actions toward Ms. Wright and the other occupants of the vehicle demonstrated a lack of the judgment that is required of officers and were serious violations of the Fourth Amendment and of CPD policy,” the board wrote in its decision.
“Respondent compounded his misconduct by intentionally making material false statements to COPA during its investigation of this incident,” the decision continued. “Respondent’s dishonesty relates directly to his public duties as a police officer and render him unfit to hold that office.”
Laskus joined the CPD in 2006. Since then he’s received a total of 95 departmental awards, including seven commendations, one Unit Meritorious Performance Award and one Superintendent’s Honorable Mention. He was one of at least eight officers to face discipline in connection with the Brickyard Mall arrest.
Laskus may now appeal his firing in Cook County Circuit Court.
In 2022, the City Council voted 34-13 in favor of a $1.7 million settlement divided between Wright and other occupants of the car. Among those to vote against the settlement were aldermen Raymond Lopez, Nick Sposato, Silvana Tabares, Brian Hopkins, Anthony Napolitano, Brendan Reilly, Anthony Beale, Marty Quinn and James Gardiner.
In August, the Fraternal Order of Police filed a motion with the police board to transfer 22 pending disciplinary cases from the police board’s docket and have them decided instead by a third-party arbitrator. Laskus’ case was among those that the union hoped to transfer. The board later denied the FOP’s motion.
The union’s effort stemmed from an arbitration award issued over the summer that would allow CPD officers accused of serious misconduct to have their disciplinary cases handled by a third-party instead of the police board. Mayor Brandon Johnson has said the City Council will take two votes on the proposed FOP contract — one for the economic package, which includes a nearly 20% raise over four years, and another for the disciplinary elements.