One Chicago family was needlessly put through the ordeal of having to make a life-or-death decision about a loved one, while a second family was robbed of the chance to bid farewell to theirs after a Chicago police mixup, a lawsuit filed by both families claims.
Elisha Brittman, 69, was found under a car on a Chicago street back in April. He was naked, appeared to have been badly beaten, and was taken to Chicago’s Mercy Hospital as an unidentified John Doe, according to the Chicago Tribune.
a witness told police the victim’s name was Elijah Bennett. Police ran the name through a database for a face match on May 6. They found an Alfonso Bennett but no Elijah Bennett.
Thus, it seems, is how Elisha Brittman came to be identified by Chicago police as Alfonso Bennett.
Upon being notified, Alfonso Bennett’s family say they told doctors and nurses at the hospital that they didn’t think the badly beaten man was their kinfolk.
“I said, ‘How did you all verify that this is Alfonso Bennett?’ ” Bennett’s sister, Rosie Brooks, said Wednesday, the Tribune reports. “They said, ‘Through the Chicago Police Department.’ ”
So, despite their misgivings, the Bennett family relented and took charge of making medical decisions for the man, who was now in a coma in intensive care.
As the Tribune reports:
Brooks said her family was repeatedly told by hospital staff that they didn’t recognize Bennett because they were in denial. Eventually, though, the family agreed to take him off life support on the advice of doctors and place him in hospice care.
Brooks said the family was with him when he died three days later.
One can only imagine the shock when the actual Alfonso Bennett came walking through a family member’s front door after the family had made funeral arrangements for him.
Fingerprints taken at the morgue finally identified the deceased as Elisha Brittman.
Both the Brittman and Bennett families are outraged and suing Mercy Hospital and the city of Chicago, alleging negligence on the part of both the Chicago Police Department and hospital officials.
“I really appreciate the Bennett family,” Brittman’s niece, Mioshi Brittman, told CBS 2 Chicago. “Had they not come to the media and let you guys know, we wouldn’t have known the way and how these things had happened.”
But she’s angry at the treatment she and her family received.
“We called the morgues. We called the hospital–Mercy,” Mioshi Brittman continued. “We called them! We called County! We called everywhere!
“The police dropped the ball on that. They can’t tell me they don’t fingerprint. It’s part of their policies and procedures.”
As the Tribune reports, Brooks says the police had an obligation to do more:
“To me that means black lives don’t matter,” she continued. “You carried him to Mercy, didn’t even know who he was and didn’t even take the time to find out. You should have fingerprinted him then.”