Lawyer: Skokie Cop Victim's Face 'Split Open'

The victim's facial bones shattered, she has had surgeries, serious pain and a titanium plate, and cannot eat very well, her lawyer said in a civil suit against a Skokie police officer and the village.

By Pam DeFiglio

Attorney Torri Hamilton of Chicago announced a lawsuit Wednesday complaining a Skokie police officer hurled a 110-pound woman into a cement bench inside the Skokie police station, breaking facial bones and resulting in surgeries, an internal titanium plate to hold bones together, difficulty in eating, severe pain and having her face shaped differently on one side.

Skokie police had charged the woman, Cassandra Feuerstein, 47, of Chicago, with driving under the influence of alcohol on March 10. Police found her pulled over at the side of the road and asleep at the wheel, according to nbcchicago.com.

Hamilton said the incident happened while Feuerstein was being booked and was in a cement holding cell, with a cement bench. 

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The attorney said she obtained the video, attached to this story and used here courtesy of chicago.cbslocal.com, from the Skokie police. Feuerstein is seeking compensatory damages and other relief unspecified in the lawsuit, which was filed against Officer Michael Hart and the Village of Skokie. 

A spokeswoman for the village of Skokie, Ann Tennes, said the village had not yet received the lawsuit, and that village counsel will review the documents after they arrive.

Update: Village issues response

The video shows a female police officer removing Feuerstein's shoes, and Feuerstein removing her bra and handing it to the female officer. Then Feuerstein walks out of the cell's open door, which Hamilton said she did because police directed her to come out to have her photo taken. 

"He (Officer Hart) wrote in the report that she had a smirk on her face and she's not looking where he wants her to look," Hamilton said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

The video next shows a police officer pushing Feuerstein into the room, and her body flies across the room with unexpected speed before she hits the cement bench and crumples onto the floor. The video shows other police officers tending to her injuries; the complaint said she was bleeding profusely, and Hamilton said she was taken to a hospital emergency room.

"I think he was just annoyed because she was complaining that she wasn't allowed to call her kids," Hamilton said. Feuerstein has two daughters.

"In a cowardly act of bullying, he launches her into a room made of cement," Hamilton said.

The original Skokie police report of the incident says Feuerstein was also charged with obstructing an resisting a peace officer. Hamilton said "they stated she put her hands up and refused to go into the cell." 

Hamilton said Cook County prosecutors dismissed those charges after reviewing the video. Feuerstein's lawsuit complains Hart made those charges without probable cause and maliciously, causing her financial and emotional damages.

Dan Cox December 07, 2013 at 03:25 PM
Julie Nagle-Panzio, Where are you getting your information from? Where does it say that she was arrested in the middle of an intersection and all of the rest of your comments made two months after the article was written. The woman was abused by the Police, the cop is in deep trouble, as he should be and the Skokie Police Dept. has been exposed for being abusive tyrants.
Dave December 07, 2013 at 04:53 PM
Let's put it this way....cops with bad a temperament are a danger to society. I'm sure if Hart knew his actions will cause this woman to split her head and result in the loss of his job, he would have been more careful but you have to look at the bigger picture. This is someone who once had the right to carry a firearm wherever he went. Do we really want someone like that who has a bad temper and obviously lacks good judgement (like pushing an extremely intoxicated woman) out there protecting the public? This woman deserves a large settlement for her injuries and this will be a severe blow to Skokie taxpayers, but hopefully the savings from not having to pay Hart's pension will offset some or all of that cost.
Jackie Brown December 10, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Sorry to inform you Dave, that coward was able to keep all of his pension by resigning before, recommended by the union and his creepy slimy lawyer. This is a case to me where any amount of money will never help her recover from the PTS and various long term injuries she have regarding such a violent act at the hands of a man entrusted to serve and protect. I will not view that video again, it is traumatic to viewers. Can you imagine the reaction and trauma experienced by her children when she arrived home so severely injured ? This bastard hart had the nerve to plead not guilty and caused more damage than his coward ass will ever acknowledge or care to. I hope he rots in jail and is passed around as a nighttime bunk buddy for all the inmate
Dan Cox December 11, 2013 at 06:08 AM
This is what happens when people sacrifice liberty in exchange for the mere promise of security. Ben Franklin warned of such a thing and so did Thomas Jefferson. Yet, those who live in Skokie are infamous Anti Second Amendment Advocates. They put all of their defensive faith in lawyers and police, but what happens when the cop is the bad guy? Thomas Jefferson: "We will not lose our Rights to a foreign army, we can only lose our Rights, when a complacent populace allows them to be swiped away by the pen of a bureaucrat. Ben Franklin: "Those who will sacrifice Liberty in exchange for the mere promise of Security, deserve neither Freedom, nor Security."


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