A Crusader Staff Report
A video captured a Chicago police officer arresting CTA supervisor Martesa Lee after she refused to drop her complaint in an incident in February at the Jackson stop on the Red Line.
The video was posted with a story in the Chicago Tribune on June 15, 2020.
It’s a case that has renewed concerns of police misconduct and the brotherhood’s “code of silence” within the Chicago Police Department. Leaders across the country are pushing for reforms in law enforcement agencies after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis last month. Earlier this month, Chicago Police Board President Ghian Foreman said police hit him with a baton as he watched a protest. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is reviewing the alleged incident.
COPA is also reviewing the case involving Lee. According to the Tribune, on February 4, Lee received a call over her CTA radio about an incident at the Jackson stop on the Red Line. Because she was close to the scene, Lee said she could handle it. She was appointed incident commander at the scene, according to the Tribune report.
When she arrived on the scene, Lee saw Michael Malinowski, a street musician known as “Machete Mike” standing on the track shirtless and bleeding. The report said Lee sought help for Malinowski and began to assess the situation to determine whether the train should bypass the station or continue normal operations.
As Lee was doing her job, Chicago police arrived on the scene. As part of her duties, Lee in the past reportedly worked with officers as a supervisor overseeing stops in the Loop. As she continued doing her job, the officers began their duties on the scene, according to the Tribune report.
After charging a 38-year-old, mentally ill woman with slashing Malinowski’s arm, Officer Raymond Haran reportedly spotted Lee walking through the crime scene. More than a dozen people had walked through the crime scene because the area was not cordoned off due to a shortage of the standard yellow tape, according to the Tribune report.
Haran called out to Lee as she spoke to the CTA control center over her radio. He asked her to get out of the crime scene. The report said Lee held up her hand to show she was on the radio and kept walking on the platform. Haran reportedly followed her, “grabbed her by the elbow and physically steered her out of the unmarked area.”
That’s when Lee repeatedly told Haran not to touch her and that she was doing her job.
The Tribune report included a copy of the dashcam video that recorded the situation.
Seven minutes after the incident, Lee walked over to complain to Haran’s supervisor, Sgt. William Spyker, who called Haran over to discuss the situation. Haran reportedly denied pushing Lee but admitted that he touched her harm as he pulled Lee away from the crime scene. Spyker then reportedly gave Lee a choice to drop her complaint or face an arrest for obstructing a crime scene.
When Lee said she would not let the matter go, Spyker allowed Haran to arrest Lee in front of her employees. The video captured Lee as she was being handcuffed.
Another dashcam video shows that while detained on the platform, Lee maintained her argument as her CTA manager tried to convince police that it was a misunderstanding.
In that video, Haran said he took Lee by the arm and “guided” her out of the crime scene. But Lee can be heard repeatedly saying “he pushed me, he pushed me.”
Lee was eventually released after police decided not to press charges. The Tribune reported that in the official incident report, Lee was accused of obstruction of justice and potentially contaminating the crime scene. But the newspaper also reported that the incident report does not mention Lee’s request to file a complaint against Hagan. Police officers are required to file “a complete and comprehensive” investigation after receiving a complaint and report the grievance to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability within an hour. According to the Tribune, a police spokeswoman declined to say whether this had been done.
The Crusader emailed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s press secretary Anel Ruiz about the incident. The mayor’s office responded saying the case is an open investigation and encouraged the Crusader to reach out to CPD or COPA on the incident. Neither agency is talking to the press about the incident because of the ongoing investigation.
Spyker and Haran, who are white, reportedly denied any wrongdoing in the incident. In reviewing the video several times, Haran is not seen pushing Lee, but she asks him repeatedly to not touch her as she speaks on her CTA radio.
But questions remain why Lee was arrested after she refused to drop her complaint against Haran.
According to the Tribune, Spyker had been named in 14 complaints since he joined the department in 1997.
While Haran has six complaints against him since 1998, the Tribune reported he has twice as many civilian compliments on his record.
Lee reportedly filed her own complaint to COPA. She also filed a federal lawsuit against the officers and the city of Chicago, saying she was falsely arrested and violated after exercising her First Amendment right to free speech.