State rep to sue Chicago Police for ‘unjust treatment’ after gun charge dropped

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This story was produced by Block Club Chicago, a nonprofit newsroom focused on Chicago’s neighborhoods.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped a gun charge against State Rep. Curtis Tarver II (D-25th) after police alleged he was carrying a gun with an invalid concealed carry license during a November traffic stop.

Now, Tarver plans to sue the Chicago Police Department, saying his Constitutional rights were violated during his arrest and detainment.

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Friends of Curtis Tarver II

Illinois State Rep. Curtis Tarver II (D-25th)

Tarver, who is an attorney, told Block Club that officers at the Grand Crossing (3rd) District Police Station, where he was detained for several hours after his arrest, denied him a phone call, tried to coerce him into “taking the charge” and drove his car to the station themselves rather than calling a tow truck, among other claims.

“Although the possession of my disclosed firearm was legal, I was subjected to unjust treatment by [Chicago] officers, which included being pulled over by six police cars in my district and being handcuffed to [a] bench for nearly seven hours,” Tarver said in a statement.

Chicago Police officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

News of the dropped charge, first reported by Politico, comes nine months after Tarver’s arrest. When arrested, he said the incident stemmed from a “clerical error” relating to recent license renewals.

After a review, the state’s attorney’s office concluded there wasn’t enough evidence and moved to dismiss the case, which the court granted on Aug. 4, said state’s attorney spokeswoman Tandra Simonton.

At about 8:30 p.m. Nov. 18, officers pulled Tarver over in the 6400 block of Stony Island Avenue. He was driving with a non-functioning headlight, for which he was also cited, according to police.

Tarver said the gun charge stemmed from a “clerical error” relating to his recent firearm license renewals. His concealed carry permit was renewed in August 2019, but it was revoked due to an expired Firearm Owners Identification Card, which was renewed as of Nov. 16, two days before he was arrested, he said.

“While I had no way of knowing, this renewal purportedly was not yet reflected in Chicago Police Department records. The department acknowledged that my FOID was valid as of November 16,” Tarver said in a statement last year. “This was two days prior to the traffic stop, indicating that the concealed carry license should also be valid.”

On the night of the arrest, officers demanded Tarver’s passenger leave the scene, he said. The passenger called Tarver’s father, who then called Tarver’s sister so she could go to the Grand Crossing station, 7040 S. Cottage Grove Ave.

It was only when Tarver’s sister arrived to confirm he was a lawyer and a state representative “that it’s suddenly no longer felony charges; it’s an I-bond and I’m out of there,” Tarver said.

“My treatment was a lot different than if it had been my predecessor — a white woman — driving through the neighborhood,” he said.

Before Tarver was allowed to leave, officers required him to take off the hoodie he was wearing — “they wanted to ensure that whatever tattoos I had would be shown in that mugshot,” he said.

“It’s feeding into that same screwed-up narrative,” Tarver said. “It should not take having a sister who’s a lawyer to show up for me to talk to somebody.”

Tarver, a North Kenwood resident, was elected to serve the 25th House district in 2018. He also was co-owner of Vice District Brewing, a Black-owned brewery which closed both of its taprooms, one in the South Loop and another in suburban Homewood, in 2019.