The death of a Chicago man at the hands of police officers has been re-classified as a homicide. Police officers restrained, beat, and zapped 45-year-old Darrin “Dagwood” Hanna’s with a Taser back in November of 2011.
His death was originally ruled “undetermined” but Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd made the adjustment to Hanna’s paperwork, after taking over the position from former Coroner Artis Yancey.
Yancey listed “physical trauma and restraint” as the cause of death, but that Hanna’s demise was brought on by drug use, poor kidneys, and high blood pressure.
The case caused outrage in the area given the clear signs of police brutality. Authorities beat Hanna in response to a domestic violence call. He sustained punches to the head before being shocked with the Taser.
One of the officers involved, Brandon Yost, was fired last spring, while another officer, Arthur Strong was suspended for 30 days without pay.
Both men were on the force for more than five years when the disciplinary action was handed down. However, the four other officers involved were allowed to return to their duties.
Rev. Jesse Jackson joined in the fight for Hanna, calling for all six cops to be fired and face criminal charges. “They should be fired,” Jackson said. “The city should be sued.”
In spite of mounting evidence leading to an opposite conclusion, Yancey determined that homicide was not the proper ruling, but as Rudd took over the position, he saw clear signs to the contrary. “Homicide occurs when a person’s death results from a volitional act committed by another person to cause fear, harm, or death,” he said in a statement. “Intent to cause death is a common element, but is not required for classification as a homicide. It must be emphasized that the classification of homicide for the purposes of death investigation is a neutral term and neither indicates nor implies criminal intent, which remains within the province of legal processes.”
Nearly two years later, the family is finding some form of peace in the loss of Hanna. “I’m glad to see the wheels of justice turning,” noted Ralph Peterson, Hanna’s cousin. “We’re overwhelmed because we’ve been saying it was homicide since 2011. Here it is 2013 and they’re just now realizing it.”
Hanna lived for a week in the hospital, after the attack. He died on Nov. 13, 2011.
Photo: Chicago CBS Local