CHICAGO – A Chicago woman settled her federal civil rights lawsuit with the City of Chicago after police physically assaulted, falsely arrested, and detained her in June 2020. Julie Campos, a Southside Latina resident, filed the lawsuit in May 2022 to hold Chicago police accountable for unlawfully arresting her while she was working. Ms. Campos obtained substantial, undisclosed monetary damages as part of the settlement. Shortly after the filing of Ms. Campos’ suit, the officer primarily responsible for violating her constitutional rights separated from the Chicago Police Department (CPD). This is an important victory for Ms. Campos, whose goal was to get this abusive officer taken off the streets.
“I am glad this lawsuit is over and that it was so successful,” said Julie Campos. “The officer who abused me is no longer on the streets. He – and I hope others – know there are consequences for their actions.”
On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, Ms. Campos was working at a Family Dollar store located on East 79th Street, cleaning up property damage that had occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. After Ms. Campos videoed CPD Officer Eric Taylor, who had just physically assaulted her, Officer Taylor and Officer Treacher Howard falsely arrested Ms. Campos on a trumped-up charge. Ms. Campos was then unlawfully detained for hours while being separated from her infant son.
“This was an out-of-control officer who had no business being on the street,” said Joshua Levin, staff attorney for the ACLU and one of Ms. Campos’ lawyers. “Officer Taylor had more complaints than 93% of all other CPD officers but had never been adequately disciplined or retrained. The quick and successful settlement in this case shows the City knows the officer’s actions were unjustifiable. While we are very pleased that Officer Taylor is no longer at CPD, the City must ensure that all officers are properly trained, and are disciplined and retrained when they do wrong.”
Arturo Hernandez, a senior attorney at CCH and another part of the legal team, said: “Ms. Campos could have stood silent about the misconduct she suffered at the hands of Chicago Police. Instead, she brought public attention to their unlawful conduct, and she demanded they be held accountable. This takes courage. Because of her actions, now there is one less police officer patrolling the streets of Chicago who is unfit to wear a badge.”
The officers’ body camera video shows Officers Taylor and Howard pulled into the store parking lot where Ms. Campos and other employees were busy cleaning up the property damage so that the business could reopen to serve the community.
While in the store parking lot, Officer Taylor instigated an obscene shouting match with one of Ms. Campos’ coworkers. Officer Taylor made vulgar sexual comments about the employee’s mother and oral sex, using racist epithets.
Unbeknownst to Ms. Campos, Officer Taylor sought to arrest the employee with whom he had instigated the argument. As Ms. Campos was carrying boxes through the store doorway to the dumpster, Officer Taylor charged inside, told her to “step back, step back,” and then grabbed her, forcibly shoved her, and struck her face. Neither officer checked to see if Ms. Campos was injured.
As Officer Taylor stomped through the store, Ms. Campos began recording him on her phone and saying that he had punched her. Although Ms. Campos had a First Amendment right to record Officer Taylor and criticize his misconduct, Officer Taylor approached her, twisted her arms—forcing her to stop recording—and placed her under arrest for purportedly obstructing a police officer.
“There was no legal basis whatsoever to arrest Ms. Campos for ‘obstructing an officer’; this was a blatant violation of her constitutional rights,” the ACLU’s Levin explained. Months later, the false charge against Ms. Campos was dropped.
“This process was hard, from deciding to file the lawsuit to waiting through the end, but it has been important – because no officer should be able to act this way and stay on the streets,” said Ms. Campos.
The ACLU of Illinois (“ACLU”), the Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (“CCH”), and the law firm of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP represented Ms. Campos in the case.