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North Chicago police beating, Tasing caused man’s death: suit

Attorneys Muriel CollisKevO’Connor seen here Tuesday are representing family DarrHanna. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times Media

Attorneys Muriel Collison and Kevin O’Connor, seen here Tuesday, are representing the family of Darrin Hanna. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 15, 2012 8:10AM

The family of a North Chicago man who died a week after his arrest sued North Chicago police officers Tuesday in federal court, alleging excessive force and brutality.

Darrin “Dagwood” Hanna, 45, died on Nov. 13, a week after North Chicago police subdued him with Tasers during his arrest. For 20 minutes in his own apartment, he was beaten and shocked, according to the lawsuit, which also names the six officers involved: Tristan Borzick, Gray Grayer, Marc Keske, Brandon Yost, Arthur Strong and Jayson Geryol.

“They beat him, Tased him to the point to where his mother couldn’t recognize him in his face and had to check his feet,” Kevin O’Connor said Tuesday after filing the suit.

O’Connor said Hanna was brought out of his apartment with a sheet covering his face and was then taken to the hospital, where “he died seven days later as a result of his injuries.”

Hanna’s attorneys also allege a pattern of police using Tasers and excessive force during arrests. At least two of the officers are named in other complaints, O’Connor said.

“Since 2005, the city of North Chicago has known that the violence has escalated, that the complaints have escalated against their officers ... and it’s now continued and escalated to the point that somebody’s died,” O’Connor said. “The family has made it very clear that they want justice, and this is not just a monetary thing, they want changes within this department.”

Hanna’s mother, Gloria Carr, and son, Delorean McKinney, 25, areseeking unspecified damages. Carr was not at the courthouse; O’Connor said he advised her not to go because she has recently received threats by phone and mail.

City attorney Chuck Smith said the mayor and police chief were taking the threats seriously.

“The mayor finds it reprehensible,” Smith said. “The city of North Chicago will do whatever it needs to do to protect this family.”

Smith said all six officers had been reassigned within the department from street duty, pending the outcome of an Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force investigation, he said.

On Nov. 6, police were summoned to Hanna’s home in the 700 block of 17th Street to deal with a domestic dispute between Hanna and his pregnant 21-year-old girlfriend.

Officers found the girlfriend outside the apartment building, but Hanna refused to come out, so officers decided to restrain him, according to police.

Lake County Coroner Artis Yancey said an official ruling on Hanna’s cause of death is still pending, while officials await various forensic reports, but he identified “multiple points of trauma” on Hanna’s body, including markings from the deployment of a Taser.

Illinois State Police investigators attended Hanna’s autopsy to take evidence.

Since his death, Hanna’s family has flooded City Council meetings, calling for resignations of officers. Photos they’ve handed out show Hanna in his hospital bed with swollen eyes and nose, and gauze covering his mouth. His mother is calling for the ouster of Police Chief Mike Newsome, whom she blames for failing to stop an alleged pattern of police brutality. She and relatives also want murder charges filed against the officers involved.

North Chicago officers have fatally shot four people since 2005, according to Third Ward Ald. Valerie DeVost.

The Lake County branch of the NAACP said the city of about 32,000 has largely ignored a 2007 agreement intended to improve relations between police and the community in the wake of two 2006 alleged police beatings of young black men, then ages 19 and 17, during arrests.

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