A 32-year-old documentary filmmaker alleges that Chicago police beat him and sodomized him with the barrel of a gun in order to intimidate him into acting as an informant. Vice magazine spoke to Angel Perez against the advice of Perez’s lawyers, but the purported police brutality survivor said that he wants to keep what happened to him from ever happening to anyone else.
“I can’t have this happen to someone else if I can stop it,” Perez told Vice‘s Rania Khalek.
Perez’s legal team urged him to keep quiet and accept a settlement from the Chicago Police Department, but he refused the offer.
“Money is not justice,” he said. “I want these guys to be off the job, charged for what they did, and given jail time.”
On October 20 of 2012, Perez was working as a delivery driver for Castillo Delivery Service. Two plainclothes police officers pulled him over, he said, handcuffed him and took him to the police station where they interrogated him for two hours about a number of drug deals and robberies that he maintains he knew nothing about.
Police seemed particularly interested in a contact on Perez’s phone named Dwayne, who Perez said is his pot supplier, but he refused to tell police anything. They released him with a threat to harass him until he gave them the information that they wanted.
One of the officers asked Perez for advice on his writing during the interrogation, which gave him pause.
“I don’t remember ever telling him I was a writer,” Perez told Vice. He was, at the time, working on a documentary about brutal Chicago cop Jon Burge, who terrorized parts of the Chicago community for years before being convicted of torture and jailed.
Perez believes that his work may have been why he was targeted in what happened next.
The next day he received a call from Officer Jorge Lopez, one of his interrogators, who apologized for how Perez had been treated and told him to come fill out some paperwork about having his car towed. The handcuffing and intense interrogation, Lopez said, had been a “mistake.”
Perez reported to the police station, where a nightmare awaited him. Lopez and police Sergeant Matt Cline detained him and savagely beat him, telling him that the abuse would stop when he agreed to take part in a drug sting to net Dwayne. Perez refused and the officers handcuffed him in stress positions similar to those used at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Then, saying they were giving him “a taste of jail life,” the officers bent Perez over a chair and removed his trousers.
“I hear that a big black ni**er d*ck feels like a gun up your a**,” Lopez taunted Perez.
According to Perez’s lawsuit, the officers “inserted a cold metal object, believed to be one of officer’s service revolvers, into the plaintiff’s rectum. The two officers laughed hysterically while inserting the object” and Sergeant Cline reportedly joked, “I almost blew your brains out.”
The police officers threatened to repeat the torture if Perez didn’t comply with their wishes. Terrified and weeping, he agreed to purchase heroin from Dwayne. Then police asked him to try to sell drugs to Dwayne, but he refused.
Finally, hours later, police let him go.
“For six months I didn’t go anywhere,” he said to Vice, explaining that the attack left him profoundly traumatized.
Officer Lopez continued to contact Perez by phone, threatening to come find him and torture him again. When he learned that Perez had contacted the Independent Police Review Authority, he finally backed off.
Other officers, however, have continued to harass him, Perez said, even throwing rocks at his windows.
One of Perez’s allies is a retired cop named Tony, who believes that the cops who tortured Perez are a bad element within the department. Perez jokes that he is the only police brutality plaintiff in Chicago with a cop on his side.
“I’m afraid for Angel,” Tony said. “There’s a lot of good policemen. Some of my best friends are policemen,” he added, but estimated that “20 percent are like these guys that destroyed Angel.”
Perez, for his part, continues to wrestle with the trauma of what happened to him. He will not rest, he said, until he sees some kind of justice.
He said, “I cannot live in a society where these guys are still on the streets.”