Ex-student sues college for excessive force by police
CHICAGO (AP) — A former student is suing an Illinois college alleging two campus police officers used excessive force during a videotaped arrest sparked by her smoking on campus.
Jaclyn Pazera alleges in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago that two officers forced her to the ground and manhandled her in a philosophy class at the College of DuPage, located in the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn.
“I had two fully grown men on my back pushing me into the ground, and he said in the video, ‘If you can talk, you can breathe,’” Pazera said Thursday. “He picked me up and slammed me into the ground harder.”
The lawsuit says the December incident began when Pazera, 27, smoked a cigarette on college grounds. The lawsuit claims Pazera was given a verbal warning regarding the college’s smoke-free policy before she returned to class.
The video shows two officers surrounding Pazera and tipping over the desk with her in it and arresting her. Obstructing a peace officer and resisting a peace officer charges against Pazera were dismissed last month.
Pazera said she sustained several “recurring injuries” to her wrist and shoulder during the arrest. She also alleges one of the officers used a stun gun to threaten a witness who recorded the scene.
College spokesman Randall Samborn said college administrators haven’t reviewed the lawsuit, but have launched an investigation.
“Student safety is of utmost importance to us,” Samborn said. “Of course, we will investigate to determine the facts and take appropriate action.”
Pazera’s attorney, Blake Horowitz, released a video showing the arrest, saying it was shot by a teacher. On it, Pazera can be heard telling officers she isn’t resisting and begging them to let her up.
“She was accosted quickly and was not allowed to get up,” Horowitz said. “These two officers surrounded her. She was manhandled by men.”
Pazera said she hasn’t attended classes since her arrest.