Cop Who Beat Mental Patient Gets VIP Treatment
May 20, 2016 (Mimesis Law) – In June, 2014, Chicago Police Officer Clauzell Gause delivered a mental patient to Jackson Park Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. While the patient’s blood pressure was being measured, he allegedly jumped out of his seat and hit Gause in the face.
Gause reacted with the professionalism we’ve come to expect of the CPD: he restrained his assailant, sat back down and didn’t escalate the situation. After all, Gause was a strong man, 6-foot-6 and weighing in at 235 pounds, and the patient, in addition to being much smaller and weaker, probably wasn’t in his right mind at the time. Serve and Protect, right? Plus, his partner was right there to back him up and make sure things didn’t get out of hand.
Just kidding: that’s not how things work in Chicago. When a mental patient disrespects a cop’s authoritah, irrelevant concerns like intent, proportionality or empathy have a way of flying out the window. After all, if Gause didn’t teach him a well-deserved lesson, the next crazy guy wouldn’t feel sufficiently deterred.
So Gause’s partner handcuffed the patient. Then the cops escorted him to a featureless gray cube of a room, bare except for a cot on the floor and a camera on the wall. Alone at last, Gause wasted no time disciplining the perp. First, he threw the patient against a wall. He followed that up with a nice, slow, telegraphed right hook to the face. Finally, as his victim slumped over the cot, Gause bent over the body and delivered a couple of blows to the head and midsection.
Right on cue, hospital staff filed into the room and started attending to the patient. Gause nonchalantly strolled to the door and waited in the hall. His partner watched impassively. Like it never happened, but for one unfortunate detail: that camera they missed caught everything on tape.
At this point, Chicago has something of a chronic problem with (video of) police misconduct. There’s the cops’ unfortunate, well-documented penchant for conducting unconstitutional stops and frisks; the way they keep leaving bullet-riddled bodies on the streets; their inability to discuss the encounters that lead to said bullet-riddling without constantly lying facts receding in memory or awareness; and the suspiciously dependent Independent Police Review Authority, an agency in charge of investigating alleged badge abuse that keeps getting rebranded in the wake of scandals.
The video of Gause beating the mental patient fell into the clutches of the IPRA. Then nothing happened. For two years. The IPRA told the Chicago Tribune it’d been having trouble finding the victim. At last, the Cook County State’s Attorney office got involved. Gause was indicted on one felony count of official misconduct (720 ILCS 5/33-3); if convicted, he faces a possible sentence ranging from probation to five years in prison and will forfeit his job.
It’s nice to see prosecutors not overcharging! The judge at Gause’s arraignment hearing was similarly understanding: he released Gause on his own recognizance. According to the Tribune, Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. said this as he did so:
You and I and those like us who chose a life of public service, we’re held to a higher standard. That’s the long and short of it. Whatever happened, happened. You have to face the consequences.
It really is heartening to see a judge identify so strongly with a defendant. It’d be even better if this sort of thing happened in cases where the accused isn’t a cop, but you can’t have everything.
Finally, Judge Bourgeois made another interesting remark:
I don’t think locking you up is going to serve any purpose. I don’t think you’re a danger to anybody.
Unlike in New York, where judges routinely set bail to “protect” the community even though the only legal reason for bail is to deter flight, Illinois law (725 ICLS 5/110-2) provides that defendants can only be released on their own recognizance if the judge is satisfied they “will not pose a danger to any person or the community”. Still, shouldn’t be a problem for our hero, right? How much risk can a cop, even a bad cop, pose?
According to the city records, Gause amassed at least 11 complaints from November, 2006 to June, 2014, including one related to the Jackson Park incident. City records obtained by the Tribune show that three days after the incident a complaint was filed against the officer with IPRA.
Court records also show that Gause was one of 11 Chicago police officers named in a federal excessive-force lawsuit stemming from the December, 2013 arrest of a man outside a White Castle restaurant at 103rd Street and Michigan Avenue.
Oh. It’s nice of the judge to be so certain under the circumstances.
Unlike most defendants, Clauzell Gause is getting the deluxe treatment on his trip through the criminal justice system. This – as Judge Bourgeois all but acknowledged – is because under ordinary circumstances, he and Gause play for the same team.
To be clear: there’s nothing wrong with Gause not being overcharged or subjected to punitive bail. But if the high-court treatment’s good enough for blue defendants, it ought to be good enough for the badge-challenged kind, as well.