State Watch

Suit alleges police ‘abandoned’ man during mental health crisis

Getty Images, Douglas Sacha

A recent lawsuit alleges that a Illinois man experiencing a mental health crisis was “abandoned” by police in a parking lot just before midnight.

The complaint, filed in Will County Circuit Court, said that officers from the Police Department of New Lenox, Ill., left 24-year-old Qusai Alkafaween in a dark, empty lot on Dec. 5, 2020, according to ABC News.

Alkafaween was “experiencing delusions” related to his schizophrenia and was brought to the hospital after a gas station attendant reported he was “acting erratically,” Jack Casciato, Alkafaween’s attorney, told ABC.

Deputy Police Chief Micah Nuesse told ABC his officers were alerted that the 24-year-old “had been treated, discharged from the hospital, and needed to leave the property.” Upon arriving in the parking lot, an officer asked if Alkafaween was aware of where he was to go from there.

“No,” Alkafaween responded, according to body camera footage.

“This is as far as I can take you right now,” the officer said, per ABC.

Shortly after the officers dropped him off, the complaint claims Alkafaween was hit by a car while walking in the area. ABC said he was then taken back to the hospital and “diagnosed with numerous traumatic injuries including a subdural hematoma, a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and numerous other internal injuries.”

Alkafaween’s injuries left him unable to attend college at the University of Illinois as he had intended at the time of the incident, ABC reported.

“Police officers are an integral part of our society. But like pilots, truck drivers, and all professions, they need to follow policies that directly relate to community safety. And in this case, they did not do so,” Casciato said in a statement to The Hill.

Casciato added that he hoped “the New Lenox Police Department will enhance the training of its officers to deal with persons in crisis.”

The complaint also asserts that Silver Cross Hospital discharged Alkafaween knowing “he was a danger to himself and others and unable to protect himself.”

Specifically, it added that the hospital failed to send him to a mental health facility or order a psychiatric consultation, ABC added.

A spokesperson from Silver Cross Hospital told The Hill they do not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit is aiming for monetary damages of at least $50,000 for five counts and is requesting a jury trial. 

The Hill has reached out to Alkafaween’s attorney and the Police Department of New Lenox for comment.
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