The family of 23-year-old Tyler Lumar is still searching for some sort of closure, one year after the young father suffered severe brain damage after he was found hanging from his own shirt inside a Chicago jail.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, Lumar is currently in need of constant medical care and can no longer move or speak. He has been on life support for the past year, with his medical bills soaring to about $2 million.
His family is still trying to figure out, why, in the first place, he was even held in jail overnight.
You see, as the Tribune notes, Lumar’s encounter with police began last summer outside a West Side Chicago medical clinic. Lumar, who has asthma, had grown frustrated with a physician who refused to refill his cough-medicine prescription. According to a police report, he threatened the physician, then tossed papers on the floor and claimed that he would come back and shoot up the clinic.
“I’m so tired of racism, bro,” Lumar was recorded saying on police dashcam video outside the clinic, claiming that the doctor had accused him of reselling his prescription medication. “That’s racial profiling. I don’t gangbang; I went to Oak Park and River Forest [High School]. I played baseball.”
After that encounter, police released Lumar without charges.
However, minutes later, those same officers stopped Lumar, arresting him on a western-Illinois county warrant over an overdue $25 payment in a misdemeanor traffic offense.
Oh, that payment, by the way, was one that Lumar had actually paid, but officials had failed to properly update his file and remove the warrant when it was paid.
From the Tribune:
On a 2015 weekend trip to see a friend in western Illinois, Lumar was pulled over and ticketed for driving with a suspended license by authorities in Lee County, which includes Dixon. He pleaded guilty a month later and was assessed $673 in court costs. He paid a chunk upfront and then submitted $25 monthly payments —all of them on time—for a year before making his June 2016 payment five days late, according to the lawsuit. Lee County authorities issued an arrest warrant two days after his payment was due.
It didn’t rescind the warrant after receiving the June payment along with on-time payments for July and August, according to the lawsuit.
The Tribune reports that Lumar’s family has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that the young father was wrongfully detained and accusing Chicago officers of failing to properly check up on him every 15 minutes. The lawsuit accuses officers of falsifying inspection logs, an action, the suit alleges, that is a common police practice in Chicago.
“My son never should’ve been there [in a police lockup],” Lumar’s mother, Lisa Alcorn, told the Tribune.
Lumar’s high school sweetheart and longtime girlfriend, 23-year-old Casey Tecate, with whom he has a now 4-year-old daughter, is also still searching for answers.
“It definitely is scary; it goes to show it could literally happen to anybody. I feel like they, meaning the police, just don’t ... look at certain people as people,” Tecate told the Tribune. “They’re just like, ‘Oh, [this is] some person from the West Side of Chicago.’ They weren’t looking at him as Tyler Lumar: a dad, a brother, a son.”
Even more heartbreaking and grimy? The fact that the warrant that Lumar was being held on carried a $500 bond. Lumar, who had $130 on him, should have been able to post 10 percent of that bond, or $50, and make his way home to his family.
However, according to the Tribune, Chicago police decided to hold him on extradition, jailing him until officials from Lee County, where the warrant originated, could come pick him up. According to the lawsuit, officials “falsely” stated that the bond information wasn’t available.
The Tribune notes:
[Alcorn’s] lawsuit alleges Chicago police wrongfully detained Lumar, concealed from Lumar the fact that he could have bonded himself out and were “deliberately indifferent” to his medical needs by failing to check on him every 15 minutes as required. The city is responsible, too, the lawsuit alleges, because it ignored the widespread police practice of falsifying cell inspection records.
The Cook County sheriff’s office, which briefly housed Lumar in the county jail, is also being sued.
Alcorn hopes that the lawsuit will help the family pay for Lumar’s medical care and also start to bring about change as to how police treat those who are detained.
“If this were a rich white kid, they would’ve gladly taken his $50 and let him walk,” Alcorn’s attorney, Eileen O’Connor, told the Tribune.
Of course, attorneys for the city and its police officers are trying to place blame elsewhere, saying, “Plaintiff has failed to plead that Lumar’s suicide attempt was a constitutional deprivation instead of just a tragic decision by Lumar himself.”
It was only when Lumar lay in an intensive care unit at Mount Sinai Hospital that Chicago police decided to announce that they were releasing him from custody and that no charges would be filed for the case.
“In Chicago, you should be scared for your son,” Alcorn told the Tribune.
Read more at the Chicago Tribune.