CHICAGO - Surveillance cameras caught images of an off-duty Chicago police officer holding a pistol and disrupting a pool game before a bar brawl that led to three other officers' indictments, according to a published report over the weekend that provided the first details from the videotape.
A Cook County grand jury on Friday indicted officers Paul Powers, Gregory Barnes and Sgt. Jeffery Planey on felony aggravated battery charges. Planey also was indicted on official misconduct and obstruction of justice charges.
The officers' attorneys have said four businessmen playing pool at the tavern instigated the Dec. 15 fight. But a 27-minute videotape, detailed in Saturday editions of the Chicago Tribune, appears to show the officers' attack was unprovoked.
Tape shows several angles
The videotape has not been released publicly. It has no sound and shows several camera angles, the newspaper reported. A Tribune reporter viewed the video, which appeared to be uncut, on two occasions, the newspaper said.
In the video, one off-duty officer slides a gun into his waistband and starts sweeping pool balls into pockets of a pool table during the businessmen's game, the newspaper reported. Moments later, five other officers join in, grabbing the pool players and throwing them to the floor and against walls. The businessmen don't appear to fight back, the Tribune reported.
The tape also shows Planey approaching police cars outside the West Loop bar. The police cars apparently were responding to 911 calls about the fight. The police vehicles begin to leave a minute after Planey approaches, the Tribune reported.
Thomas Needham, Planey's attorney, denied his client was trying to send the police cars away.
"He was out there telling people that there was no need to drive recklessly and to slow down and take a breath,'' Needham told the newspaper. "He was being attacked by three people.''
Needham has said the businessmen were drunk and made fun of Powers, who was distraught over the death of his father. Telephone messages left by The Associated Press for Needham on his cell phone and office phone were not returned Saturday.
In a federal lawsuit filed last month, the businessmen claim the off-duty officers attacked them - unprovoked - while they were playing pool. They contend they suffered broken ribs, broken facial bones, injured vertebrae and bruises, according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.
The videotape is one of two bar security videos that have surfaced in recent months to the embarrassment of Chicago Police. Another video, which was broadcast worldwide, allegedly showed another officer beating a female bartender.
The department has been criticized for the way the incidents were handled, including that police acted too slowly to arrest and charge the suspects. Police Superintendent Phil Cline has since announced his intention to retire.
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com