Video contains graphic images.
Skokie Police repeatedly tried to book Cassandra Feuerstein and send her on her way after they arrested her March 10 for driving under the influence of alcohol.
More than an hour after she first entered the booking area, where four police officers were unsuccessful in getting her to cooperate, they took her to a jail cell, according to video footage from police station cameras.
The village agreed to show the Skokie Review the complete video footage of police efforts to book Feuerstein before Officer Michael Hart allegedly pushed her into a cell where she hit her face against a concrete bench and suffered injuries.
Feuerstein, 47, of Chicago, filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court Oct. 8 naming the village and Hart, a 19-year veteran on the Skokie force. Video from inside the holding cell released to the media by Feuerstein shows her being forcefully shoved and her face hitting hard against the concrete bench.
She had to have facial reconstruction surgery, said her lawyer, Terri Hamilton, and she still is coping with the injuries.
Hamilton said the video “speaks for itself” and called the officer’s action “indefensible.”
In addition to DUI, Feuerstein was charged with resisting a peace officer, improper parking on the roadway and not having valid proof of insurance.
Feuerstein pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol, Hamilton said Oct. 9. The charge of obstructing a police officer was dismissed during the criminal trial. Court records show she was sentenced to one year of supervision and roughly a $1,600 fine. The resisting arrest charge and other traffic citations were dropped, records showed.
“She cooperated with the Breathalyzer and admits she was driving after she had been drinking,” Hamilton said.
The full video footage of officers trying to book Feuerstein, though, shows she repeatedly failed to follow instructions during her processing.
Officers are seen being patient with her, giving her many opportunities, but she appears resistant. They tell her she will be able to leave after she is processed, pays $100 for bond and someone picks her up.
Feuerstein on the video demands she be taken to the bathroom several times and complains that police are refusing. The video, however, shows her being taken away at least twice.
“I asked to use the bathroom and I was refused, and I am still being refused,” she yells.
Feuerstein also repeatedly yells on the video that her rights were not read to her immediately. She grabs a sheet out of a female officer’s hands when being read her rights, the video shows.
Officers in the video are seen calmly explaining the booking process and other details to Feuerstein. She appears agitated, and at one point, she falls from the bench onto the floor.
“You’re processing me like a criminal,” she yells on the video.
After completing a Breathalyzer, the video shows, Feuerstein is asked to cooperate for a mug shot, but she appears unwilling to follow instructions. She initially walks away from the camera without putting her feet in the yellow outlines as instructed.
At other times, she refuses to look at the camera.
Hart on the video is heard saying she should be taken to a cell if she doesn’t want to cooperate. Several times, she agrees to cooperate and then doesn’t follow through, which appears to elevate the officer’s frustration.
Hart at one point, though, tells her police would rather not lock her up, but will have to do so if she continues to refuse to cooperate, according to the video.
The video shows Feuerstein sent briefly to a holding cell a first time before she returns to booking after saying she’ll cooperate. She lines up for a photo, and when she refuses to look at the camera again, Hart says on the video, “we’re done.”
The video shows Hart quickly grabbing Feuerstein by the arm and leading her presuambly to the holding cell again where she allegedly was shoved into the bench.
Arrested early morning
Feuerstein was initially arrested at about 6 a.m. March 10 on the 3900 block of Howard Street. She was found in the middle of the intersection at Howard and East Prairie Road slumped over with her foot on the right pedal, police said.
Her lawyer said she had pulled over, knowing she was in no condition to drive.
According to the original police report, her front passenger side tire was flat with a deep tear through it, and the rim was damaged.
Officers had to repeatedly bang on the window to wake her up, police said. She failed three sobriety tests on the scene, according to the report.
Feuerstein told police she had had only two drinks. The report lists her Breathalyzer results at .173 with the legal limit in Illinois .08, the report stated.
Feuerstein was resistant before and after the booking process as well, according to the report.
“She began to cry hysterically and tried pulling her arms away from me as I was attempting to place the handcuffs on her wrist,” the report stated.
According to police, she refused to leave the squad car and locked her feet under the passenger seat and laid down across the rear seat. Police said they had to remove her from the vehicle.
At Skokie Hospital, where she was taken for her injuries, she yelled loudly and threw a bucket and an ice pack across the room, police said.
Skokie Village Manager Al Rigoni Oct. 10 said Hart is currently assigned to station duty and has no contact with the public. An internal investigation and another by the Cook County State’s Attorney are being conducted, he said.
Hamilton said she believes Hart has anger issues that need to be addressed. She said the other officers at the station were not named in the lawsuit because they acted properly.
This was the first time Feuerstein has ever been arrested for DUI, her lawyer said.