Touching display of affection for cop who beat man shackled to wheelchair

Published On September 23, 2010 | By Dr. Q | Articles

In 2005, Randle Miles was stabbed in Chicago. He went to the local hospital for treatment and, when he felt that the staff wasn’t helping him quickly enough, he began to mouth off. The hospital staff called the police who sent officer Bill Cozzi to deal with the dispute. Cozzi decided that the best way to deal with a man who was acting belligerently but posed no physical threat to anyone was to shackle him to a wheelchair, beat him with a small club (a “sap”), and file fraudulent criminal charges against him.

Video from one of the hospital’s surveillance cameras shows the incident:

Initially, Cozzi was going to get off with just a slap on the wrist. His friends in the justice system set him up with a sweet plea deal. He would have to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, but he would only be given 18 months probation and a two year, unpaid suspension from his job. After the two years were up, he’d be given another chance to commit depraved acts of violence under the color of law.

Luckily, the FBI learned of the incident and decided to prosecute Cozzi for a civil rights violation. Cozzi plead guilty and is now serving a 40 month (3 and 1/3 year) prison sentence. End of story, right?

Wrong.

Now Cozzi’s friends in the Chicago PD are whining about his treatment in a very public way. To show his support, Cozzi’s former co-worker Officer Bob Cavaiani directed a successful effort to raise $3500 to erect this billboard:

"Stay Strong Friend - You Will Not Be Forgotten" (Source: CBS Chicago)

According to Cavaiani, the billboard “shows that we stand united behind Bill… We stand united in a miscarriage of justice that has befallen Bill because, basically, he’s been prosecuted twice.”

Cozzi’s family stated that “We believe the charge was politically motivated and that the 40-month sentence at a federal prison in Louisiana was unjust and excessive. … We know that Bill is deeply touched by this display of support and affection for him.”

Here’s what I have to say:

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About The Author

Dr. Q is a police accountability activist who resides in Massachusetts. He is the founder and editor of Massachusetts Cop Block. He is also the creator of the War on Cameras Map. You can connect with him on Twitter.
  • Erik @ Sydney

    nice one.. he got what he deserved.

  • BigDog

    Why weren’t the bystanders also charged? Several of them could have easily told him to knock it off but just ignored it. If that was their helpless grandmother in the wheelchair I would hope they wouldn’t have had the same reaction. Fuckin bullshit.

  • oooorgle

    Criminals hate cameras.

  • Really?

    @BigDog: Why should bystanders be charged for a public official abusing his authority? And have you seen what happens when you tell a cop to “knock it off” while he’s wailing on a “suspect”? That’s a fucking joke – get real.

  • Rob

    We should rent that billboard next month, It should say something like “Bill Cozzi, Hope you enjoy your prison sentence for beating a handcuffed man. Paid for by Copblock.org” -Rob

  • Paula Parmeley Carter

    If the bystanders were police then they should at the very least be fired for standing by and not stopping the assualt.

    I have mixed feelings about this one. I really do not like when the federal government steps in and charges someone with something that they have already been charged with at state level. I think that it is a clear violation of double jeopardy, but it is hard to feel bad for someone who becomes a victim of a system that they uphold daily through violence.

    So, I have no sympathy for this officer, but Justice would not be him sitting in a federal prison funded through more violence, it would be him paying restitution to his victim.

  • BigDog

    @Really

    If you had watched the video you would see that the bystanders were other officers, and should have also been charged for letting the incident happen without trying to stop it.

  • Rich

    To go along with BigDog and Really?’s little conversation this video also helps show CopBlock’s point of view regarding “the bad apple” argument that most cops are inherently good and that a few bad ones make them all look bad. Where were the “good” cops in this video? Wouldn’t a good man stand up against injustice like this? Step in immediately and say “Do NOT hit this disabled man again or I will put you up on assault charges”? No, they stand there and allow it to happen. Though I’m sure they’d be perfectly willing to step in if someone else who DID have the courage to yank that cop off the helpless man tried to. They’d step in and tase/beat/arrest him. Sickening.

  • Dr. Q

    The other people in the video are dressed differently than Cozzi, so I assumed that they were security guards. If so, I understand why they didn’t try to stop him. If any of them laid a hand on the cop, they’d probably get hit with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, obstruction, and a laundry list of other charges.

    If they were cops, they deserve to be fired.

  • Jenn

    I love the Mr. Krab clip.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, there is a law in every state for an officer who does not stop a crime in progress by another officer. it is usually called ‘failure to intervene’ and it is punishable and a requirement of their statutes, code and code of ethics.

  • Art N

    I do believe the cop got an excessive sentence, but I’m not exactly shedding a tear for him.
    To this day, the lie persists that he beat a ‘crippled man’. The man was an able bodied, belligerent moron who was handcuffed to a wheelchair to restrain him, then he spit on the cop. The cop bopped him a couple times. Frankly, spit on me and I kick your ass a lot worse than that cop did. Where he went off the rails is when he started to lie and cover the whole thing up, raising false charges, falsifying reports, etc. That shows a crooked soul and frankly, the original sentence was just, save for coming just short of preventing him from being a cop forever, which is what should’ve been done.

    Bill Cozzi tests my objectivity bone because it’s just so easy to see those facts and leave him to the wolves, but I cannot get over how the government came in and made him into a scarecrow, after a case had already been made and settled.

    My wife was attacked by a bum downtown- punched in the face and lost teeth- he received a year. I’ve been in my fair share of tussles and laid out a few big-mouths in my day. It’s all part of life in the big city. Yes, we are supposed to hold cops to a higher standard, but what the federal government did to him, after the local system had already rendered a verdict, was just wrong.

    Cops are an insular tribe and Chicago Cop Culture is pretty gross. There is lots of cleaning up that still needs to be done, but this wasn’t the way to go about it. People who have an innate hatred of cops cheer something like this, but they aren’t being objective. When the Federal Government uses selective discretion to ‘make examples out of people’ who had already gone through the state system for relatively benign stuff, it’s a very scary abuse of process, ideologically anyway.

  • JodyW

    To Art N a big 10-4

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  • Kelley B.

    You have got to be kidding me right!! I think all cops should have degree’s I am sorry. You realize how dumb you really were before you went to college! It matures you!

  • storm1260

    Hey Mr. Cop. They have a great job opening for you in the Gestapo.