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By Juan Perez Jr. / Tribune reporter /
A Chicago woman has sued the village of Skokie and one of its police officers, alleging she was seriously injured after being shoved headfirst into a jail cell bench after a drunken driving arrest last winter.
Cassandra Feuerstein, 47, said in a federal lawsuit that the incident required facial reconstructive surgery and the insertion of a titanium plate to "replace the bones that had been shattered."
Part of the alleged incident was recorded on jail video cameras, which Feuerstein's attorney, Torreya Hamilton, released Wednesday.
"The video speaks for itself," Hamilton said. "She does nothing to justify what this male police officer does."
In a written statement released today, Village Manager Albert Rigoni said the village has “deep concern for Ms. Cassandra Feuerstein’s injuries that occurred at the Skokie Police Station.” The statement said that an officer involved has been placed on station duty, with no contact with the public, while both the village and the state’s attorney investigate.
Feuerstein was arrested for drunken driving March 10, according to Hamilton and court documents. The video shows officers searching Feuerstein inside the jail cell, where she appears to be asked to remove her boots and bra before being removed from the cell for additional processing.
An officer then takes Feuerstein by the arm and appears to push her back into the cell. Video shows Feuerstein falling forward and striking her head and face on a bench, before officers and paramedics tend to her as a pool of blood spreads on the floor.
"If this was a tavern fight, which of course it wasn't, it'd be like she got sucker-punched," Hamilton said.
In addition to a drunken driving charge, Feuerstein was charged with resisting a police officer. A Cook County court document filed by police said Feuerstein "knowingly resisted … in that she pulled away from (the officer) and placed both her hands on the sides of the cell door all in an attempt to not be placed into the holding cell."
The lawsuit also alleges the officer made false statements to others in the Skokie Police Department about why he pushed Feuerstein into the jail cell, causing his fellow officers to write false reports on the incident.
Feuerstein pleaded guilty to the DUI charge, but county officials dropped the resisting arrest charges. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages.
The village said other officers who were present at the time of the alleged incident, both male and female, have been interviewed and “treated Ms. Feuerstein with professionalism and respect.”
The village values the police department’s “high professional standards and reputation and is deeply concerned about this isolated incident,” the statement continued. “… The Village of Skokie is committed to reaching a full resolution in this matter.”