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Lawsuit filed over woman’s suicide in Chicago police custody

February 23, 2022 GMT

The sister of a woman who died by suicide while in Chicago policy custody sued the city, alleging that officers failed to recognize she was in the midst of a mental health crisis and did not properly monitor her in a holding cell.

The federal lawsuit, filed Tuesday, names the city of Chicago and 10 police officers involved with the December 2021 arrest of Irene Chavez, 33, on a misdemeanor battery charge following an incident at a bar.

Chavez died Dec. 18 at a hospital after hanging herself in a cell, the suit says.

The complaint, which seeks unspecified damages, accuses officers of violating the American With Disabilities Act when they arrested Chavez and of denying her basic medical care after she repeatedly asserted she was a military veteran dealing with post-tramautic stress disorder.

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Sheila Bedi, an attorney representing Chavez’s sister, Iris Chavez, played police body camera footage of Chavez’s arrest during a Tuesday news conference. She pointed out what she said was officers’ disregard for Chavez’s well-being as she was suffering from a mental health crisis.

Bedi said officers could have “accommodated her disability by taking her to a hospital instead of arresting her.”

She also said officers also could have placed Chavez in a cell that didn’t have any suicide hazards or paper blocking the window so they could keep a better eye on her.

“Their actions and inactions lead to her death,” Bedi said.

Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating Chavez’s police custody death.

The city’s Law Department and a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department declined to comment on the pending litigation.