AMERICA: A Sikh man whose turban fell to the ground during a scuffle with a police officer two years ago goes on trial.
Kuldip Nag, 51, is facing charges of aggravated battery to a police officer and obstructing a police officer in a bench trial before Judge Edward Burmila.
On March 30, 2007, Joliet officer Ben Grant was sent to 3574 Buck Ave. to place a tow notice sticker on a derelict van parked on Nag's driveway. Police said Nag became upset and pushed Grant. The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) alleged the officer used his baton to strike Nag's head while he yelled racist comments and threats. An internal investigation later cleared Grant, who was the first witness to testify Monday.
The police officer gave his account of how he tried to restrain Kuldip Singh Nag, finally only managing to do this by spraying pepper spray
"I still couldn't get his arms (pinned), so I stayed on top of him until he was tired and put him in handcuffs," Grant told The Sun
SALDEF contends Grant was yelling "You (expletive) Arab! You (expletive) immigrant. Go back to your (expletive) country before I kill you." Reported The Sun
Shutts played a recording from the dispatch center that seems to corroborate Grant's testimony. He was using his radio to call for backup during the struggle.
Nag's attorney Eric Mitchell did not refer to SALDEF's allegations during his cross-examination. In his opening statement, Mitchell said Nag wasn't resisting arrest but was trying to cover his head as Grant struck him with the baton.
"He suffered serious head injuries and spent three days in the hospital ... (Nag) was keeping his arms up out of necessity," Mitchell said.
Officer Amy Chochola brought Nag to the police station for booking. She testified the suspect walked to the squad car and into the holding area of the station without difficulty, but he complained during the ride that he couldn't sit comfortably and didn't understand why he had been arrested.
Nag also reportedly refused to allow Chochola to wash the remaining pepper spray from his face.
"He said he was 'schizophrenic and afraid of water,'" she said. Nag became ill while he sat in the booking area and was later taken to SilverCrossHospital.
Mitchell noted Chochola's police report does not mention Nag seemed agitated during the ride in her squad car.