Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sikh American Veteran Assaulted by Joliet, IL Police Officer

For full background on this post, click here:

Sikh American Veteran Assaulted by Illinois Police Officer


Two weekends ago, a Sikh American male was assaulted, with both pepper spray and then with a metal baton, for allegedly assaulting a police officer, at his home in Joliet. SALDEF has been working with Mr. Nag to make sure that his rights are protected and that the injustice done to him does not go unheard or unpunished.

This is truly a disheartening event that Mr. Nag was subjected to and if the facts of the case pan out as told, it will potentially send shockwaves and set precedent across the country. Can an officer get away with such bigoted and hate-filled speech against someone he is arresting? It is unthinkable the kid of rage and other potential personality issues that this officer must have and how he harnessed all of that power to victimize an innocent citizen and former service-man.

Also see some solid pieces on this at:

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At 5:56 PM , Anonymous Perry said...

From the Joliet Herald News...

Joliet officer cleared of abuse claims
INTERNAL INVESTIGATION

June 30, 2007
By BRIAN STANLEY Staff Writer

JOLIET -- A Joliet police officer has been cleared of accusations he abused a local man.

Officer Ben Grant, who was accused of beating and using racial epithets toward a Sikh he was arresting, has been cleared by a police investigation.
ยป Click to enlarge image
Joliet Police Chief Fred Hayes (right) and Officer Ben Grant speak with The Herald News recently at the Joliet police station on the allegations of excessive force and racial epithets against Officer Grant in March.
(Corey R. Minkanic/Staff Photographer)

Grant, who has been on the force for 18 months, was the subject of an internal 60-day investigation after the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund made complaints on behalf of Kuldip S. Nag.

Around 3 p.m. March 30, Grant was at Nag's residence, 3574 Buck Ave., after police received "an anonymous citizen complaint" about an inoperable vehicle parked in the driveway, which is against city ordinance.

"I put a (tow notice) tag on the car and was approached by Vera Nag. While I was talking to her, her husband came out and became angry a police officer was on his property," Grant said.

"He kept telling me I should get off of his property. I kept telling him his vehicle was violating an ordinance and he could be arrested for interfering with me," Grant said.

Nag reportedly pushed Grant, who responded by using his pepper spray on him.

"I kept telling him to put his hands behind his back. He was under arrest," Grant said. "He kept wrestling with me (as I handcuffed him)."

The defense fund said Grant used "his baton and violently struck Mr. Nag numerous times until he fell to the ground. While the assault ensued, the officer was ... saying, 'You (expletive) Arab! You (expletive) immigrant, go back to your (expletive) country before I kill you.'"

"I did not say any of those things," Grant said.

Police say three witnesses support Grant's claims.

"During our investigation into this incident, we interviewed neighbors and learned three of them saw and overheard the arrest," said Chief Fred Hayes.

"All of them supported Officer Grant's report completely and said the allegations in (Nag's) complaint were a mischaracterization of the events."

"We looked at the evidence and saw an officer using an appropriate amount of force, the minimum amount of force and keeping himself under control," Hayes said.

Nag was arrested on charges of aggravated battery to a police officer and resisting a police officer. As he was being booked at the police station, Nag complained of pain and was taken to Silver Cross Hospital.

Nag was hospitalized for five days with complaints of intense pain and head trauma, according to the defense fund. After leaving the hospital April 3, he was booked into the county jail and released on bond the following day.
Nag's story published
Grant began a scheduled vacation soon after Nag's arrest and thought little more about it until he saw the news April 12.

The defense fund issued a press release containing Nag's description of the events and a photograph Vera Nag had taken during her husband's arrest.

"It upset me," Grant said. "I was worried if I'd still be a police officer (with) people's perception of what happened."

Joliet police said they learned of Nag's allegations from the media inquiries generated by the press release.

"We encourage the community to come forward when they have concerns about our officers, but neither Mr. Nag nor his attorney contacted the department," Hayes said.

Hayes said the group sent a letter demanding a police investigation after it had notified the media.

Because of the media coverage, "we began our investigation prior to receiving their letter and tried to contact Mr. Nag, but both he and his attorney refused to speak with our internal affairs investigators," Hayes said.

Attempts to reach Mr. Nag for comment were unsuccessful. A phone number registered to the Nag residence has been recently disconnected.

Rajbir Singh Datta, a spokesman for the defense fund, said he was not surprised to learn the investigation had exonerated Grant.

"I wasn't expecting an internal investigation to go against the officer," he said.
Military service?
Besides witness testimony, other statements in the press release apparently diminish Nag's credibility.

The release states Nag "was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in the U.S. Navy during the first Gulf War."

The Herald News requested information about Nag's service from the National Personnel Records Center, which maintains military personnel files. The center does not have any service record matching Nag's name.

Datta said Nag "presented himself to us as a veteran," and had no comment when informed The Herald News was unable to verify his service record.

"We will continue to represent him in his upcoming trial," Datta said.

While Nag's status as a veteran cannot be confirmed, one veteran involved in the incident can produce a service record.

Grant served with the National Guard during the current Iraq war.

"I was deployed between November 2004 through October 2005. I transported equipment from Kuwait to Iraq," Grant said.

The day Grant returned from the Middle East, he learned he'd been hired by the Joliet police.

Grant disapproved when he was told Nag's claim of military service cannot be verified.

"If that's true, it's not right," he said. "It seems like he's claiming that just to get out of being in trouble."

Hayes said anyone who falsely claims to have served in the military abuses their freedoms.

"It dishonors Officer Grant and all the men and women who have served our country, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice," he said.
Officer relieved
Grant said he's relieved the investigation cleared him of wrongdoing

"I thought I was a good police officer, but after this happened, I started to doubt myself."

Grant said the support he received from his family and the department helped him get over the incident.

"It seems to have blown over," Grant said. "I've tried to put it behind me and just do my job. I still like being a police officer."

"And he's a damn good one," said Hayes.

 

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