During a mental health episode, a man was dropped in abandoned lot and struck by a car. He is suing the police and hospital involved.
A legal complaint filed last month in Will Count Circuit Court, Illinois, alleges that Qusai Alkafaween, 24, who was discharged from a hospital in 2020, was dropped off by police in a parking lot late at night and during a mental health episode. He was ultimately hit by a vehicle after being dropped off and rushed to the emergency room after suffering a traumatic brain injury.
The case states that New Lenox, Illinois, police officers “committed willful and wanton conduct” for their role in dropping the man in a dark parking lot just before midnight on December 5, 2020. It names Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox in the suit, as well, claiming it “negligently discharged Alkafaween during his mental health crisis when he was a danger to himself and others and unable to protect himself.”
A gas station attendant reported that Alkafaween, who has schizophrenia, was “acting erratically,” and called the Orland Police Department. Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects “less than one percent of the U.S. population,” according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms, which are not continuously present, when active include “delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, trouble with thinking and lack of motivation.”
The officers took Alkafaween to the hospital, according to Jack Casciato, a partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago, Illinois, and one of the attorneys representing Alkafaween, who added that his client was “experiencing delusions” when he was taken.
After being treated at Silver Cross, Alkafaween was discharged after several hours instead of being transferred to a longer-term mental health care facility to address his episode or even referred for a consultation with a psychiatrist.
Officers called the hospital and were told that “Alkafaween had been treated, discharged from the hospital, and needed to leave the property,” Deputy Chief Micah Nuesse said. “An officer provided Mr. Alkafaween a ride to a location in Orland Park.”
“Just after midnight, the police cruiser arrived at a parking lot at the intersection of Wolf Road and Route 6 in Orland Park,” the complaint states. Then, around forty seconds of body cam footage (which was shared by Alkafaween’s attorneys) shows that officer dropping him and asking him if he knew where he would go from there, to which Alkafaween replied, “No. You want to help me with that?” The officer responded, “This is as far as I can take you right now,” and drove off.
“They made a decision to bring this young man to an abandoned parking lot and simply just abandon him at midnight – with instructions from police officers to just start walking,” Casciato said, and added that his client didn’t have a cell phone with him or any other means of contacting anyone he knew to pick him up.
After walking aimlessly for about half an hour, Alkafaween wandered into traffic and was struck by a passing vehicle. He was “diagnosed with numerous traumatic injuries including a subdural hematoma, a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and numerous other internal injuries,” after being re-hospitalized, the complaint states, and was eventually released after several weeks.
The specifics of what happened that night are currently under investigation.