D Gregory Smith

HIV+ Man Sues Chicago Area Police

Filed By D Gregory Smith | February 04, 2010 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, HIV/AIDS activism, people who should know better, police brutality

Demetrius Anderson, a gay, HIV+ Muslim, is suing the Blue Island Police Department with allegations of excessive force, malicious prosecution and verbal assault - the latter specifically for being an HIV+ gay man.

The story began in April 2009, when Anderson attempted suicide (no details available) and was chased by police and tasered. Anderson claims excessive force, which injured him, and verbal assaults attacking his religion. Later when Anderson was taken from the hospital to booking, he alleges that officers made derogatory comments about his HIV status and sexual orientation. He also reports the disturbing statement, in effect: "Next time you try to kill yourself, jump off a bridge," implying it would "work better."

The lawsuit also specifically charges the police department with negligence, claiming that it failed to train its officers to properly deal with persons suffering from mental illness.

Could this be a test of the newly expanded Hate Crimes Act that includes persons with HIV?

To my knowledge (which is by no means exhaustive - feel free to inform me), no one has been successfully prosecuted for a hate crime involving the mistreatment or crime of/against a person based on their HIV+ status.

The newly-passed Matthew Shepard Act adds to the older definition of a hate crime, which only applied to "an offense motivated by religion, race, national origin or color," expanding the federal definition of hate crimes to include "assaults based on sexual orientation, gender, disability or gender identity."

Persons with HIV are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and are therefore, as "disabled" (not sure how happy I am about that) are now a protected class.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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I don't know much about the hate crimes implications here, but I'm glad whenever someone sues the police for violence. It's hard to stand up against conservatives' favorite parts of the government in the current cultural climate.

Yeah, there does seem to be a need to stand up- for everyone.
Brutality doesn't have to be physical, it can be emotional and psychological. In any case, the police should represent the best of society, IMHO, and when they aren't, there should be implications.

Mr Anderson is NOT a Muslim- that was inferred by a source, but incorrect.