Chicago investigators have cleared two CPD police officers accused of racially profiling U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush during a traffic stop last summer on the city’s South Side, Chicago Tribune reports.
Anthony Guglielmi, chief spokesman for the department, said the Bureau of Internal Affairs found that the officers act properly because they had probable cause to make the stop. Earlier that day officers had been told to look out for high-end vehicles because of a stream of South Side thefts.
Police stopped Rush, a Black man, in his Lexus RX after learning from a police dispatcher that its license plate was registered to a different vehicle, Guglielmi said.
Rush said he complained to the Police Department to stand up for those in his community who have experienced “similar” forms of “harassment” from police.
“There was no rhyme or reason for them to stop me,” he said.
A video, which is about 7 1/2 minutes long, shows that throughout the stop, the officer and Rush interacted in a calm manner.
“This is my district, and I have never been so embarrassed and humiliated,” the lawmaker can be heard saying after requesting the officer’s name and star number.
“Well, you shouldn’t be embarrassed, I mean, we’re …” a female officer said in a reassuring tone.
“Don’t tell me what I should be,” Rush responded without raising his voice. “I am what I am. What’s your name?”
That same day, Rush filed a complaint against the officers, alleging he had been pulled over without legal justification due to the color of his skin. But the department’s Internal Affairs unit closed the case with a ruling of unfounded.
“The video footage from this traffic stop provides a firsthand look into the professional actions of Chicago police officers that occur throughout the city every day,” Guglielmi said. “It also displays the value of body-worn camera technology that allows us to ensure investigations are guided by the facts, provide officers due process, and protect the civil rights of every Chicagoan.”
During an interview with the Tribune, Rush said he was “infuriated” by the traffic stop because officers misread the plate despite it identifying his as a congressman. He said the law enforcement officials then “compounded their mistake” by telling him the plate was registered to a Cadillac.
Guglielmi couldn’t disclose if the police dispatcher mixed up two “1” plates, leading officers to think Rush’s Lexus had the wrong plate displayed. Rush’s Lexus SUV has an Illinois license plate that reads “1” with the words “U.S. Congressman,” while another vanity plate is registered to a Cadillac owned by a man who lives on the North Side.
“I know how a Black man driving a Cadillac is interpreted in our community,” he said.