Independent investigation to review use of force in DeKalb arrest

DEKALB (WREX) — A video posted online of an arrest that happened Saturday in DeKalb is being reviewed by both DeKalb’s Police Department and Illinois State Police for the use of force by officers.

The person arrested in the video is 25-year-old Elonte McDowell. McDowell’s girlfriend recorded the arrest and posted the video online. In it, you see McDowell detained by four officers. One appears to have McDowell in a chokehold, two officers struggle to place handcuffs on him, while a fourth uses a taser on him. It appears McDowell loses conciousness after he’s tased.

Police in Illinois are prohibited from using chokeholds following a 2015 law.  The move is illegal “unless deadly force is justified.”

McDowell spoke with 13 News on Tuesday and says he’s feeling overwhelmed following the arrest.

“It happened so quick.  Looking from that outside in, that video is very disturbing to watch to. I’m blessed to stil be here. To know that was me being choked and tased, that I took that amount of force by DeKalb Police Department. I wasn’t trying to assault them, I wasn’t trying to hit them or kick them. I didn’t have any weapons. I had cellphone in my hand to record for my safety issues.”

The DeKalb Police Department issued a press release Tuesday in response to the video.

It states: On Saturday August 24th, 2019 the DeKalb Police Department received information that Elonte McDowell, 25 years of age of Aurora, was driving to DeKalb with a “load of drugs”. The information received advised that McDowell would be driving a tan Chevy Malibu and accompanied by a white female with long brown hair. Officers located the vehicle describeed entering DeKalb and performed and investigative stop based on the intelligence received. Also present in the vehicle was McDowell’s girlfriend who matched the description provided. 

Investigating officers asked McDowell to exit the vehicle. McDowell exited the vehicle. As officers spoke to McDowell, an open-air sniff of the vehicle McDowell was driving was conducted by a Police K-9. The K-9 alerted to the prescence of nacotics within the vehicle. A search of the vehicle ensued, and a felony amount of cannabis was located.

Officers informed McDowell that he was under arrest and approched McDowell to place him into handcuffs. Upone doing so, McDowell attempted to flee. Officers attempted to restrain McDowell, who continued to resist their efforts to place him into handcuffs. Durig this encounter, a Taser was deployed to gain McDowell’s compliance. Officers placed McDowell into handcuffs and called for an ambulance to check on him. McDowell refused medical treatment. 

The release goes on to state McDowell faces charges of unlwaful possession of canncbis with the intent to deliver, unlawful possession of cannabis, criminal tresspass to property, and resisting a peace officer.

When ask if McDowell tried to flee the arrest, he tells 13 News that’s not accurate.

“In the video you can hear me say ‘I’m good! I’m good!’ If someone is trying to flee they aren’t saying that, they’re going to hit the rocket boost the other way. If I really wanted to run do you think I would have pulled over for the cops in the first place?”

The DeKalb Police Department says it’s reviewing all available video footage and statements regarding the use of force in this arrest. The department says it’s also contacted Illinois State Police to conduct an independent review of the incident. While the department doesn’t directly address the use of a chokehold by an officer it states, “At this time, the officer invovled in this incident has been temporarily reassigned to administrative duties.”


Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden

Investigative Reporter

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