Accuser Stands by Claims in Police Beating Case Disciplinary Board Notes Inconsistencies in Man's Story
Allen, Jim, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Jim Allen Daily Herald Staff Writer
Jeremiah Mearday acknowledged inconsistencies in his story on Thursday but stood by his key claims that two Chicago police officers beat him in an unprovoked attack.
The 3 1/2-hour appearance at a Police Board disciplinary hearing marked the first time that Mearday told his story while facing the two accused officers, James Comito and Matt Thiel, who were suspended. The hearing will determine whether the Grand Central District officers are reinstated or fired.
The case has stirred a U.S. Justice Department investigation and has closed ranks on both sides of the issue. Police have held silent vigils to show solidarity with their accused colleagues, and West Side politicians and activists are protesting on Mearday's behalf.
Mearday accused the two officers of beating him with their flashlights when they arrested him on Sept. 26 on the West Side. Mearday, who denied Thursday that he was a gang member, was charged with resisting arrest. The officers have testified that he fought them as they tried to question him, which led to the three falling to the ground.
Mearday described a scene where he dropped to his knees and didn't put up a fight but was struck on the crown of the head and then in the jaw, initially "screaming" to friends to get his father.
But under cross-examination by the officers' attorney, Paul Geiger, Mearday admitted that his story had changed since he gave an account two days after the incident to an Office of Professional Standards investigator. Instead of accusing the officers of using their "sticks," he was certain they had used their larger, metal flashlights, a key because investigators said they found blood on one of the officers' flashlights.
Confronted about the discrepancy by the officers' attorney, Paul Geiger, Mearday referred to the broken jaw he suffered, and said, "You probably would have thought I said stick, too. …