FREEPORT (WREX) — A civil lawsuit has been filed against the City of Freeport, four Freeport police officers and Freeport Health Network Memorial Hospital (FHN) after a man was arrested back in June for allegedly stealing an IV.
The controversial arrest was made June 9 when Shaquille Dukes, who was a patient at FHN Hospital in Freeport, was walking outside the hospital with an IV machine attached to his arm. Dukes said a hospital security guard stopped him and two other men he was with and accused them of trying to steal the machine.
Freeport police arrested Dukes on charges of attempted theft and disorderly conduct, but later dropped the attempted theft accusation. Attorneys for Dukes say police took his asthma inhaler. While detained in a squad car, Dukes asked for it back, saying he could not breathe. A news release from Dukes’ attorneys say he suffered an asthma attack, which led to a seizure and stroke. The complaint says none of the officers assisted Dukes.
In previous a interview with 13 WREX, Dukes alleged racial profiling as the source of this arrest.
The complaint says Dukes was later transferred back to the hospital where physicians confirmed his stroke and said he needed immediate care. However, the complaint says officers returned him to the Freeport Police Department and held him for two more hours.
City leaders in Freeport dispute this, saying he was taken straight to the hospital.
Dukes is also alleging that when he was released from custody, he sought treatment at Freeport Memorial Hospital but was refused care due to the earlier incident. As a result, Dukes says he was forced to seek care in Chicago to treat his respiratory and pulmonary issues, as well as a neurological problem that emerged because of his stroke.
“The Freeport Police Department and the hospital displayed a shocking level of negligence and disregard for the health and safety of Mr. Dukes, who suffered severely as a result of their inhumane treatment of an innocent patient needing critical care,” said Antonio Romanucci, founding partner at Romanucci & Blandin, LLC. “Mr. Dukes will continue to suffer from the harm done by these officers and the negligent medical staff for years to come. It is truly a tragic incident that could have been easily avoided had they used better judgment to stop the situation from spinning so quickly out of control.”
The lawsuit is seeking damages from FHN Memorial Hospital and the City of Freeport for a lack of substantive due process, failure to provide medical treatment, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, false arrest, violation of equal protection and racial discrimination, among other charges.
The civil lawsuit is also filed on behalf of Marqwandrick Morrison and Credale Miles, who were arrested along with Dukes.
The City of Freeport did seek a third party to conduct a review of the arrest and subsequent actions taken by Freeport Police. That investigation found no evidence of misconduct.
The report done by Hazel Crest Police Chief Mitchell Davis III concluded no one from FHN gave Dukes permission to go outside the hospital and could not substantiate claims of racial profiling. It did, however, highlight an incident the report calls a “teachable moment” for Freeport Police concerning Dukes’ inhaler.
“It should be noted that while I don’t believe that it rose to the level of cruel and unusual punishment and I don’t know where it falls within Freeport PD’s policy and procedure, but I believe that Officer Holden and officers present during Dukes’ medical episode should have considered unhandcuffing him while he was in distress. Officer Holden did immediately call paramedics to respond to assist Dukes, but it wasn’t until Officer Brandae Hilby arrived that she responded to Dukes’ cries that he couldn’t breathe, after which she got the inhaler from Officer Holden and allowed Dukes to utilize it. This did provide Dukes with some relief. This should serve as a teachable moment.”
Chief Davis’ report says he attempted to contact Dukes, Morrison and Miles on multiple occasions to get their side of the story but none of the men showed up to two scheduled appointments that were previously agreed upon.
13 News did reach out to Freeport’s City Administrator Lowell Crow, who said he had not seen the lawsuit and because of that could not comment. We have also reached out to FHN but have not heard back.