Cop accused of beating hospital patient

  • Medill News Service
  • January 19, 2006 @ 5:25 PM
Bond was set at $50,000 Thursday for a Chicago police officer who pleaded not guilty to charges that he beat a wheelchair-bound man at a Chicago hospital.

William Cozzi, 48, a patrol officer for the Grand Central District, allegedly beat a man, whose name was not released, with an 8-inch billy club after handcuffing and shackling him to a wheelchair while the man was awaiting treatment last fall for a stab wound at the Norwegian American Hospital emergency room. The hospital is located at 1044 N. Francisco Ave.

Cozzi was indicted on three counts of aggravated battery, 12 counts of official misconduct and two counts of simple battery for the incident that was caught on video surveillance in either late August or early September.

Cozzi is being prosecuted four months later because investigators were trying to find an eyewitness who called 911 after seeing the alleged beating, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Tom Bilyk said. The witness did not leave her name with the 911 operator who received the call.

According to the police report, Cozzi was called to the hospital to take the man's statement after the man refused to explain the nature of his stab wound to hospital staff. The man was allegedly intoxicated and refused to cooperate with Cozzi, which allegedly prompted Cozzi to use force against him.

"[Cozzi] struck him about 10 times in the face and upper body," said Bilyk, who is also supervisor of the state's attorney's professional standards unit.

The man suffered a lacerated lip and bruises to his face and upper body from the alleged beating, Bilyk said. None of the injuries were life threatening.

Phone calls to Cozzi's attorney, Joe Roddy, were not returned.

Cozzi has been a Chicago police officer for 13 years and does not have a criminal history. He was released from his police duties earlier this week.

If convicted, Cozzi could be sentenced from 4 to10 years in prison by Cook County Circuit Judge Lawrence Fox. His next scheduled court appearance is Feb. 27.