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.

Oliver P. McCracken October 10, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Is it not lucky that this woman fell asleep behind the wheel while parked, instead of while driving? Or that an innocent child or pedestrian or fellow motorist wasn't killed? Again, it's too bad that the lady was injured, and it sounds to me that the officer and village will pay. My point is that the Skokie Patch could easily have had to run an article on a dead child. They did not. For that, we should all be thankful, including the injured woman.
Dan Cox October 10, 2013 at 08:16 PM
These are the people we trust with our lives, our children and this is the way they act, no denial...the video is indesputable.
Jackie Brown October 10, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Well Oliver, there is no reality in your "what if" theory of dead children innocent children and motorist ! Didn't happen, but this violent assault against a woman in police custody did. How in the hell is someone thankful to SPD for a broken face. Taxpayers, open your checkbook and be prepared to pay big for this latest F#@k up by SPD. The most cowardly part is if SPD could have gotten away with this one swept under the rug they would have !
Patch reinstates deleted accounts! October 10, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Jackie Brown, I'm guessing you somehow know or are involved with Ms. Feuerstein & are trying to garner info for her lawsuit, or have had 'prior contact' with, to cause you to have very strong feelings against, the Skokie PD -- or both. Most of us have no other involvement other than reading this story, & are entitled to our opinion. Just curious: Do you live in Skokie & are one of the "taxpayers"?
Patch reinstates deleted accounts! October 10, 2013 at 11:28 PM
Patch: I know you don't have any IT Support based on my past experiences, so I'm just putting this here. My above comment is time-stamped @ 11:17 PM. It was sent @ 10:17 PM. Wrong zone? Or, are all my clocks wrong?
Pam DeFiglio (Editor) October 10, 2013 at 11:33 PM
PRDA, Patch's headquarter is in New York, so it may be an East Coast time stamp.
Jackie Brown October 10, 2013 at 11:36 PM
None of your business where I reside first of all, my feelings against the behaviors of SPD for defense and support of this behavior and officer are felt as strongly by everyone whom has viewed this video. My prayers and support to Mrs. Feuerstein and her family that she may emotionally and psychically recover from this horrific attack and injustice done to her. Is this the behavior that 'taxpayers" of Skokie are accustomed to?
Jeramiah Johnson October 10, 2013 at 11:37 PM
the cop who shoved her has no heart. Now, if this had occurred in Chicago, I wouldn't have been surprised. Wonder if the cell is in the new Skoie Police offices. May want to sue the engineers and architects who designed the cell. (i think it's an old lawyer's maxim - when in doubt sue everyone possible)
Jeramiah Johnson October 10, 2013 at 11:41 PM
could have done an on camera strip search by male cops and then shoved her. just being sarcastic. sorry.
Jeramiah Johnson October 10, 2013 at 11:45 PM
many lawsuits are settled out of court so the judgement is never made public. I live in Skokie, so I'm wondering how much this will cost me. the cost should be taken out of the police department's budget, but they never are.
Patch reinstates deleted accounts! October 11, 2013 at 01:13 AM
Pam, Thank you. Jackie Brown: You didn't answer the question, so I'll assume "no". I don't want to know where you live. I was just curious if it is Skokie since you seem to be speaking for 'everyone', or wanting to incite others. Anyway, best wishes to this woman. I think she deserves any money she'll get from the lawsuit. I am glad this was made public so it hopefully will never happen again in Skokie.
john October 11, 2013 at 12:05 PM
People believe what they read or hear on the news but most of that information came from this woman that was probably too intoxicated to remember what happened and only knows what occurred because she watched the video and reported what she though happened to the news! Do you really think she would tell anyone that she wasn't parked on the side of the road? Shes a liar and a good one at that! What the news got wrong was that she was in fact in the middle of the street when the police found her where she fell asleep with her foot on the brake but she was probably too drunk to remember that and her lawyer probably told her it would be a bad idea to tell the truth!
Jenny Green October 11, 2013 at 02:01 PM
I'm amazed that the insane cop had the gaul to file a false report about her resisting arrest.. that is the lowest of the low. He's completely untrustworthy and a criminal and has no business being a police officer. He's the one who belongs behind bars. He chose a profession that involves dealing with intoxicated people, yet doesn't know how to deal with intoxicated people?! W O W.
Felix Ling October 11, 2013 at 06:54 PM
"Schoolmarm, years ago, a friend was charged with DUI even though he was pulled over to the side, passed out. ... I was told that if the keys are within the driver's reach, the vehicle is under their control. So, no, a stopped car's fender isn't a problem. The problem is if a drunk person wakes up & decides to start driving again." The problem with the law is the perverse incentives it creates. A drunk person is better off trying to make it home rather than to sleep it off. Sure, you don't want people getting into the car in the first place, but once someone has realized the mistake, would you rather they try to compound it or for them to do the next best thing? Somebody really didn't think that one through. Also, this police department is a disgrace. Disciplinary action should have been taken immediately, and I think it's very telling that none of the other cops on this video act shocked or surprised -- which is what you'd expect if this was truly an isolated incident like the department claims.
Till Then October 12, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Caveats in law that protect public employees are being abused and misused by the superiors of those employees. I challenge anyone to find this officer's actions in any training manual or policy book. When public employees act outside of the bounds of their duties, they become criminals unworthy of those legal protections. To outright lie in a legal report regarding an "incident" further removes the employee from acting within his/her given duties, and is more evidence that the employee is unworthy of public protection from frivolous claims of battery. These legal protections were never intended to allow criminal behaviors by public employees. Managers and supervisors who fail to file charges against employees' criminal behaviors become accessories after the fact, and should also be liable to prosecution. In short, if a department believes that unjustifiable arbitrary attacks of detainees, and falsifying legal documents are permissible actions, they had better put the ideas up for public dispute of the policies, or obey the law like everyone else.
Benny October 12, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Michael Hart has committed two criminal acts. Firstly he has nearly killed a woman and seondly he committed perjury. Is there really much more that can be said? He should be prosecuted by the full force of the law for committing this atrocity.
Patch reinstates deleted accounts! October 13, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Benny, Jackie Brown, etal: http://skokie.patch.com/groups/opinion/p/bennys-misconception-on-comments
Benny October 14, 2013 at 11:20 AM
Dear Patch, The basis of your opinion was well set out and carries merit and I agree with a lot that you have said. You sound like a really intelligent and well balanced person which is very refreshing. If you're a Police with Skokie officer then I think I may have the evaluate my entire skepticism of the Skokie Police Force. Warm regards Benny
Benny October 14, 2013 at 11:27 AM
Despite what people may think this heated debate is an excellent opportunity to unite the town of Skokie in a positive manner and move forward. Often when shocking events happen it's a chance for both sides to set aside differences and work together towards a united future. Are there any officers out there willing to step forward in a public meeting and apologise? Are there any Skokie citizens willing to step up and sign a pledge of trust to the Skokie Police? To support them and request they do the same? It's actions like this that build communities. I would be willing to participate. Benny
Benny October 14, 2013 at 11:29 AM
John what about you? How would you like to see this community issue resolved?
Brian Hamilton October 16, 2013 at 02:02 AM
Officer Hart is a volatile, belligerent man posing a danger to the public. That cowardly, abusive bully with a badge needs to be charged with a felony, and put on permanent leave pending the outcome of his trial. The citizens of Skokie ought to be phoning the District Attorney and demanding his immediate arrest!
Grumpy Old Man October 17, 2013 at 07:51 AM
The media obtained the video of the incident in which Rodney King was arrested in Los Angeles. Politically correct liberals that they were they deleted all of the video prior to the part which showed officers striking the intoxicated King with their batons. The jury in the state case viewed the entire video and it made all the difference in the world - acquitted. I don't know, nor do any of the posters, what transpired at that station. Sure, the video of the women being thrown, pushed, shoved, propelled across the room is highly charged. But the truth will, or at least should out in the trial. Meanwhile, the Skokie Police Department will do its own review and take action as it deems appropriate. Trial by media isn't justice. I note in these comments differing statements of the facts. How many different facts were presented by the media in the Zimmerman case. Funny, another acquittal. This officer may well be guilty of what he is charged with. He may be a rogue cop. I don't know. But until we decide to go back to the old "eye for an eye" justice imposed by the nearest relative, and Hatfield and McCoy feuds, the jury will decide, not the media and not persons infected with media reports.
Brian Hamilton October 17, 2013 at 01:25 PM
@Grumpy: The officer has NOT been charged with anything. That's the entire point.
Grumpy Old Man October 17, 2013 at 03:18 PM
@Brian - My post was really directed at the poster who wanted this officer's face bashed in with a baseball bat and started talking about the lex talionis. But it goes further because I do not know that he committed a felony or that Ms. Feuerstein pressed criminal charges which were ignored by the States' Attorney. If they were she could have complained to the Illinois Attorney General. The State's Attorney is obviously aware of this case as they refused to prosecute her for resisting an officer which indicates they did investigate the incident. Whether that also included a determination as to whether to pursue a criminal charge against Hart, I don't know. But, if criminal charges were to be preferred, Ms. Feuerstein is the proper party to press them and complain that they were not pursued. I'm not supporting this guy, it certainly appears he has no business carrying a badge and a gun. But I don't think I have the requisite information to make that decision. Until I have the evidence that the agencies who do have the information necessary to prosecute, or relieve him of his duties, I prefer to leave it to their considered judgment, rather than on the foibles of the media of which I have little confidence.
Ray Merlo November 07, 2013 at 08:03 AM
This little shyte couldn't even apologize, he needs to get a personal lesson in manners that I would be happy to teach.
Julie Nagle-Panizo December 07, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Although it was unfortunate that this lady was hurt badly, I believe that she should share some of the responsibility. First of all, she was almost 2 times over the limit for drunk driving; secondly, she was passed out at the wheel with her foot on the brake in the middle of an intersection; thirdly, she was combative with police and totally belligerent to the point where they had to put her in the cell several times to calm her down. If she had behaved in a rational manner she would have been out of the police station within less than an hour after processing. Although there is no excuse for the officer in pushing her, I believe he did not intend her to get hurt. She was holding onto the cell door and refusing to get in. The video appears to show a combination of a push and a trip. A very unfortunate situation for everyone concerned. I hope that the next time this lady decides to get blind drunk that some one will give her a ride home or that she designates a driver before taking her first drink. The only good thing to come out of all of this is that no innocent person was killed because of this woman's drunken driving.
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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