The Reader has obtained video footage of Saturday’s Taste of Chicago protest that calls into question the official police version of events that led to the arrest of Ja’Mal Green, a 20-year-old activist accused of attacking an officer.
Green was charged with five felonies—two counts of aggravated battery of an officer, two counts of aggravated battery in a public place, and attempting to disarm an officer—and two misdemeanor counts of resisting or obstructing an officer, according to CPD News Affairs.
As was previously reported by DNAInfo, police said that Green had two separate altercations with police Saturday evening, including one at approximately 6 PM. During a hearing Monday, assistant state’s attorney Erin Antonietti alleged that during this incident, Green swung his arms and punched police commander George Devereaux in his left shoulder. Antonetti cited a Tribune photo as evidence of the attack.
However, newly obtained video appears to show Devereaux initiating contact with Green, pulling him off a barrier, then tussling with him after he lands, with protesters attempting to separate the two.
In the video, Green can be seen standing on a metal barricade. Devereaux, in his police uniform, seems to motion for Green to step down. Devereaux reaches past a group of protesters and grabs the activist’s cargo shorts, pulling him down from the barricade. Green lands on the ground, visibly upset, facing Devereaux. Protesters stand between the two, seemingly attempting to separate them. Green seems to back away from Devereaux. The activist pulls his fist back but does not appear to make physical contact with the officer. Multiple protesters separate the two.
Prosecutors say the barricade altercation took place at roughly 6 PM, though the video above was shot at 7:08 PM, and appears to show an alternate perspective of the same incident captured in the Tribune photo that police identified as having been taken during that first altercation.
A second video obtained by the Reader shows Green talking calmly with an officer in a blue polo shirt, and is time stamped at 7:13 PM. After the two men exchange words, Green appears to walk towards the paddy wagon on his own accord. The video then cuts off.
Police allege that during a second altercation, which ended in Green’s arrest, Green spit at an officer and grabbed his duty belt near his gun. It’s not known whether that alleged incident was captured on video.
Green was one of 19 protesters arrested during Saturday’s “die-in.”
Supporters gathered outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse Monday to protest his arrest. During his court appearance, his mother and sister were taken into custody. Those protesters referenced a video that could show an alternate story, as did Green’s defense attorney, though he did not provide it in court.
Green’s bail has been set at $350,000.
Police News Affairs did not immediately return requests for clarification.
Charles T. Fogarty contributed reporting.