Attorney Michael Oppenheimer ( left ) and David Flood, the partner of alleged gay-bashing victim Alexander Ruppert. Photo by Amy Wooten
Attorneys of a gay HIV-positive man who claims he was beaten by police in Uptown last year met with media near the corner where the alleged incident occurred on June 14 to announce that they have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court against two Chicago cops and the City of Chicago.
Uptown resident Alexander Ruppert claims that around 10:30 p.m. on March 5, 2006, two Chicago police officers ( identified in the suit as Vincent Torres and Kent Pemberton ) responding to a disorderly conduct call escorted Ruppert from the Uptown Lounge. Afterwards, they allegedly transported him ( un-cuffed and un-restrained ) in their vehicle to 1232 W. Lawrence ( near Magnolia ) , where they beat him and called him anti-gay slurs. Ruppert claims the officers beat him because of his sexual orientation.
Attorneys Michael Oppenheimer and Jon Erickson, in conjunction with the Civil Rights Litigation Group, are representing Ruppert. Ruppert's partner, David Flood, was also present for the press conference.
'They beat him not only with their fists, but they beat him with their words of hate,' Erickson said, who added the officers beat Ruppert without provocation. 'This was a hate crime disguised as police work.'
The police report, according to Erickson, also notes that the two officers transported Ruppert from Uptown Lounge ( at Broadway and Lawrence ) to a different location, claiming they needed to fill out a contact card on Ruppert. Oppenheimer added that in his experience, officers typically fill out such information on gang members, and there was no need, nor explanation, behind relocating his client, who was not under arrest at the time.
'They could have filled something out where they were before,' Oppenheimer added.
Ruppert was not available for the press conference due to hospitalization that morning, for reasons his attorneys would not state.
Flood expressed that his partner is still very much shaken by the alleged attack. 'He is still pretty upset about it. He's traumatized.'
'The reason he [ Ruppert ] is filing this lawsuit is so this doesn't happen to anyone else. Of course he is seeking justice for himself, but also this community,' Flood also stated.
According to his partner, Ruppert is short in stature, weighing roughly 120 pounds. Ruppert's attorneys say the two officers were twice their client's size. Flood added that he spoke with Ruppert via cell phone when he was in the police car. According to the suit, Flood heard the officers calling Ruppert derogatory names in the background before the call was disconnected.
According to the suit, Ruppert was beaten about his face and head while the officers made vulgar comments referring to his sexual orientation. It also claims that it was only until Ruppert revealed his HIV status that the officers called for an ambulance. Ruppert received 16 stitches under his eye, and was treated for another wound to the back of his head. He also received bruising and lacerations on his face and upper body.
The two officers charged Ruppert with battery, claiming their knuckles were injured. The two counts of aggravated battery to a police officer, as well as one count of resisting arrest, were dropped this May by the State's Attorney's Office. Ruppert plead guilty to disorderly conduct, of which he was not initially charged for. He received supervision.
According to the suit, after Ruppert was taken to Weiss Memorial Hospital, he was held at the 20th Police District for over two days, without food or water. The suit also claims that Ruppert had to drink from the toilet for water to survive.
Ruppert was then transferred to 26th and California, and released March 15 on $50,000 bond.