2nd CPD officer relieved of police powers during investigation into body-slamming incident

CHICAGO -- A second Chicago officer has been relieved of police powers while investigators review an incident in which a man was seen on video being slammed to the ground by an officer last week.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability recommended the move on Wednesday.

Interim CPD Superintendent Charlie Beck reviewed and agreed with COPA's recommendation while an investigation into the use of force incident is ongoing, according to a police spokesman.

No other details are known about the second officer involved in the Thanksgiving Day incident that led to what police call an "emergency takedown."

Bernard Kersh, 29, is facing an aggravated battery of a peace officer charge and several misdemeanor charges in the incident.

Chicago police said Kersh was drinking from a vodka bottle at a bus shelter in the Chatham neighborhood last Thursday, when he was approached by two officers.

Police said Kersh became verbally abusive, licked an officer's face and spit on him.

"Officer Williams immediately conducted an emergency take down to place arrestee into custody and prevent any additional injuries to himself," the arrest report states.

The officer who conduced the "emergency takedown" was relieved of police powers by former CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

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Rev. Jesse Jackson has gotten involved in Kersh's case.

"The ruling by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) gives us an opportunity to say the behavior of rogue officers is unacceptable," Rev. Jackson said on Wednesday. "When one is sworn to uphold the law and he or she violates the law then there must be deterrence."

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Kersh's attorney Sami Azhari said on Sunday that Kersh is diagnosed with schizophrenia.

"This is an individual that suffers from schizophrenia. He's suffered from it for the last six years. He needs some serious help and the fact that the officer reacted the way he did was completely out of control," Azhari said.

Prosecutors presented information over the weekend about Kersh's criminal history.

Most recently, prosecutors said he was charged with a felony resisting a police officer in October 2018.

According to data from CPD, he was charged with aggravated battery of a police officer back in June 2018.
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