The Forest Park Police Department is investigating a complaint filed by a 19-year-old Franklin Park resident claiming that he was severely beaten by Forest Park police during a brawl at a local bar.
Edison Reformado was arrested March 1 in front of Duffy’s Tavern, 7513 Madison St., on charges including a felony charge of battery to a police officer as well as charges of resisting arrest and underage consumption of alcohol. The felony charges were later dropped, and Reformado was given a small fine and police supervision.
In the official incident report, Officer Ken Gross acknowledges striking Reformado in the face with a closed fist several times after “an unknown number” of shots from his Taser stun gun failed to affect him.
Though the police report indicates that Reformado was out of control during the incident, Reformado said in his complaint that he was “subdued and compliant.”
“I definitely was not severely intoxicated to the point that I was a mess,” said Reformado, a student at Dominican University.
A DJ who was performing at the bar the night of the incident, however, verified Gross’ account. “He was out of control…(Gross) had to do what he had to do ” if someone hits you and he’s not controlling himself, what’s the next step?” asked the DJ, who did not wish to be named.
The DJ said that he had a brief verbal altercation with the Reformado when he refused to stop leaning against his equipment.
Reformado said that following the exchange with the DJ, he walked toward the back of the bar, but returned to the front when he saw someone throw a punch at his friend.
He said that he was then involved in some “pushing and shoving,” and acknowledged throwing a punch in the scuffle. He said that after he was dragged out of the bar by bouncers, another man charged at him, and he punched the man.
The report states that Gross, who was in plain clothes at the time, then grabbed Reformado by the shoulder, identified himself as a police officer and told Reformado to “relax,” at which point Reformado allegedly looked at his police badge before punching him.
Reformado denied this account. “That’s the biggest thing that upset me the most ” I couldn’t fathom hitting a police officer…I respect the law,” he said, insisting that Gross did not identify himself as an officer.
The report goes on to state that after Reformado resisted attempts to be handcuffed, Gross deployed his Taser, but Reformado did not seem to be affected. Several bar patrons then assisted in tackling Reformado, and an off-duty security guard attempted to handcuff him, states the report.
Reformado allegedly continued to resist, and Gross Tasered him multiple times. Officer Marcin Scislowicz arrived to assist, and according to the report, Reformado kicked Scislowicz in the leg, ripping his pants.
Gross stated in the report that after Reformado continued to resist arrest, “I struck him several times in the right side of the face with a closed right fist.”
Reformado said he was unsure of how many times he was punched and Tasered.
“I remember being shot with a Taser and tackled ” after that I just remember people on top of me. It felt like forever. I was just getting beaten, feeling hits all over my body,” he said.
The police department’s written policy on response to resistance and aggression does not state a maximum number of times that a Taser can be deployed.The policy states that officers may include “the conduct or statements of the subject” in their decision to use the device. Officers must complete a training program before they are allowed to carry or use a Taser.
The written policy also outlines numerous levels of force that may be used, ranging from social control to firearms. A category entitled “physical control” includes “holding, direct mechanical control, etc.”
The use of closed fists while struggling with an offender is not addressed.
The document instructs officers to use “only that force which is objectively reasonable and necessary to protect himself or herself or others from bodily harm.”
Officers later found that Reformado had an ID card with a 1983 date of birth, along with his own ID, which Reformado acknowledged.
Reformado said that he was again beaten by Gross when he arrived at the police station. “He told me to stop and stand still, and then he walked up to me and hit me with a backhand that cut my lip,” he said.
Other officers, he said, mocked him as they passed his jail cell, with one asking “what the hell were you thinking?”
“I told him that I thought I was fighting for my life,” said Reformado. The report does not mention any such incidents.
Gross states in his report that he experienced a headache and pain in his face and head as a result of being punched.
Pictures of the complainant provided by Reformado’s mother, Anita Harmon, show extensive bruising to the face including a severely blackened right eye and marks left by the Taser on both his back and chest.
Forest Park Village Administrator Michael Sturino said that an investigation into the incident would be conducted, and therefore the village cannot offer comment.
Harmon said that she and Reformado are unsure if they will sue the village.