Chicago-area officer pleads not guilty in teen’s beating


OAK LAWN, Ill. (AP) — A suburban Chicago police officer has pleaded not guilty to punching a 17-year-old boy during an arrest last summer that led to protests by members of the Arab American community.

Oak Lawn Officer Patrick O’Donnell’s plea to aggravated battery and official misconduct charges came Wednesday in Leighton Criminal Court in Chicago.

A grand jury indicted him last month, and his next court date is April 4.

The Cook County prosecutor’s office has said that Hadi Abuatelah was struck more than 10 times July 27 with a closed fist and that another officer knelt on the teen’s legs while both officers shouted commands, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Abuatelah sustained fractures to his face, skull and pelvis. He also had swelling of his brain and spent six days in a hospital. A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed by his family against Oak Lawn.

A bystander videotaped the beating. The police department was accused by some in the community of profiling and harassment.

The teen later was charged by the state’s attorney’s office with illegally possessing a gun. That case is pending in juvenile court.

Oak Lawn Police Chief Daniel Vittorio has said departmental training was followed, that Abuatelah refused to follow commands and was reaching for a shoulder bag that contained a loaded handgun, according to the newspaper.

O’Donnell’s attorney, James McKay, said Abuatelah had been “trying to get that gun.”

O’Donnell, 33, was hired by the police department in 2014. He has been assigned to administrative duties.