DeKALB – The DeKalb Police Department has released a compilation of footage from an arrest last month that garnered nationwide attention.
On Sunday DeKalb police uploaded 17 minutes of video from dashboard cameras recorded during the Aug. 24 arrest of Aurora man Elonte McDowell. A cellphone video released last week showed McDowell on the ground held in a headlock by a DeKalb police officer before he is shocked by a stun gun by a DeKalb County Sheriff's deputy. The video went viral on social media.
“As a result of this arrest, there has been significant public interest in this case and the facts that surround this arrest,” according to a news release. “The DeKalb Police Department believes it is important to be transparent with our community to best preserve the public trust.”
The video, posted to the city of DeKalb's YouTube channel,
follows the arrest from the time McDowell is pulled over in the Lincoln Towers parking lot. When he is pulled over, McDowell can be heard asking why he is being pulled over and if he is being detained.
“Yes, this is a traffic stop, you’re being detained,” the DeKalb police officer said.
McDowell said he does not have a driver’s license but that he does have an ID. The first police officer leaves, but a second officer can be seen talking with McDowell’s passenger, although there is no audio of the conversation.
At about five minutes into the video, the first police officer returns and asks McDowell to get out of his car to talk. McDowell asks if he has to, and the officer says if he does not, he can be arrested. A third police officer appears at this time and also orders McDowell out of the car.
McDowell asked again if he was being detained. The third officer says McDowell can be arrested for not following a lawful order.
McDowell can be seen exiting the vehicle and, off camera, he is asked if he was banned from the property. McDowell was banned from the Lincoln Towers property in November 2018, according to court records.
“I pulled over for y’all,” McDowell said. “Why are y’all trying to give me a hard time?” McDowell can be heard asking.
Police can be overheard talking about how there was supposed to be a large amount of narcotics in the car. About 10 minutes into the video, a K9 unit can be seen in the camera and around the car. Later, the third officer on the scene would open the door and search inside the car.
According to court documents, police said they found a bag containing between 1 and 3.5 ounces of marijuana in the car. During a post-arrest interview with DeKalb police, McDowell said the marijuana was his, according to court documents.
Police said the bag and drugs matched those McDowell was promoting on Snapchat, according to court documents.
In the video, the first police officer can be heard telling McDowell he is being detained because he is banned from the Lincoln Towers property.
“You pulled me over here,” McDowell said.
“You could have pulled over on the side of the road,” a police officer said.
At about 11:30 into the video, it switches to a second camera, showing McDowell on the side of the first police vehicle. He again asks why he’s being detained and has his hands raised. Two police officers grab his arms and wrists before McDowell appears to dart forward.
The video switches to a third camera showing McDowell on the ground with three police officers on top of him. McDowell can be heard shouting “I can’t breathe” over and over again.
A tow warning sign blocks much of the activity, including the use of the stun gun that can be seen in the cellphone video from last week, but when the commotion is over, McDowell can be seen lying motionless on the ground. At about 13:20, he’s moved into another position that is blocked by the tow sign.
The first police officer can be heard telling another, “He went to run away so we had to tackle him.”
Off camera, another officer can be heard to say that right before that happened, he found a very small bag of suspected marijuana in the car, so they had enough to detain McDowell.
An officer also can be heard to say “By the way, I did not have my arm across his throat.”
According to Illinois law, police officers can not use chokeholds unless in a situation where deadly force is allowed. A chokehold is defined as "applying any direct pressure to the throat, windpipe, or airway of another with the intent to reduce or prevent the intake of air." It does not include contact with the neck that does not reduce air.
After almost 17 minutes, McDowell is walked off camera in handcuffs. A message states McDowell refused medical treatment at the scene.
McDowell was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, criminal trespass to property and resisting a police officer.
If convicted of the most serious charge of unlawful possession with intent to deliver, McDowell could face up to five years in prison.
He was released on his signature and is next due in court at 9 a.m. Monday.
The police officer who restrained McDowell on the ground was assigned to administrative duties while the Illinois State Police conduct an independent investigation of the incident.