Attorney Says Arrest of Black Hospital Patient in Illinois was Racist

The attorney for a Black hospital patient who was taking a walk with an IV in his arm when he was arrested by police in Illinois earlier this month described the arrest as racist and further stated that the charges should be dropped.

Attorney Ben Crump said during a press conference on July 11 that his 24-year-old client, Shaquille Dukes, was arrested in June because of his skin color, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“His crime from everything we see on the video is simply he was in a hospital while black,” Crump said during the press conference.

Dukes posted to Facebook on June 17 that he was admitted into Freeport Health Network for double pneumonia while he was on vacation. He said in his post that he was told by doctors he was allowed to walk around for a while and he went outside. The 24-year-old was stopped by a hospital security guard who reportedly assumed that he was leaving the hospital to steal the IV in his arm. “I was admitted into the hospital for double pneumonia, after receiving doctors orders to walk around, I was stopped by an overzealous, racist, security officer, who claimed that I ‘was trying to leave the hospital to sell the IV equipment on eBay,’” Dukes wrote.

The security guard called the Freeport Police Department while Duke was still in his hospital gown with the IV in his arm. Dukes wrote on Facebook that he was “being arrested for attempted theft,” and his brother was arrested as well. He wrote on social media that his IV was removed “NOT by a doctor” and had his rescue inhaler taken away from him.

“I told the [Sergeant] I was being treated for pneumonia and asthma, and his words were ‘I don't care why you're here, you're going to jail,’” Dukes wrote.

While he was being driven to the jail, the 24-year-old wrote that he was having a seizure and an asthma attack. He wrote that the rescue inhaler was finally given back to him four minutes after begging officers to give it back to him. “I pleaded with officers for almost 4 minutes to retrieve my inhaler from the transporting officer, and finally, when I became unresponsive, it miraculously appeared,” Dukes wrote. In a statement from the City of Freeport, city officials said that Dukes and his brother were arrested for misdemeanor disorderly conduct and that it “found no evidence of misconduct on the part of Freeport Police officers.” It also stated that Dukes did not have permission by hospital staff to go outside with the hospital equipment. The report requested that Hazel Crest Police Chief Mitchell R. Davis conduct an independent third-party review of the matter. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Davis’ final report did not find any evidence of police misconduct or racial bias in the arrests. Davis submitted his report to the Freeport Board of Fire and Police Commissioners and the board will hold a hearing to learn more information about the incident on July 23. “An incident of this scale deserves one more layer of review before we take any final action. That’s why I decided to forward the report to the Freeport Board of Fire and Police Commissioners,” said Freeport City Manager Lowell Crow. “We owe it to both the complainants and the officers to be as thorough as we can be when gathering all the information related to this event.”

Crump, who has not filed a lawsuit yet, said during the press conference that there are “all kind of constitutional violations here,” when discussing his review of Dukes’ case. He said his law firm will continue to investigate the matter as a racially motivated incident, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

”We’re going to get charges dismissed and then explore every possible legal remedy available to these young men,” said Crump. “What we hope is that the city of Freeport would exhibit some leadership here and not try to cover this up, not try to intellectually justify this discrimination.”

In a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times, the hospital said it could not comment but stated that hospital “protocol does not permit admitted inpatients to leave the hospital or hospital grounds while under care.” Dukes is scheduled to appear in court in August, the publication reported.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.