Man Tasered by Cops 'Wouldn't Hurt a Fly,' Friend Says
WEST PULLMAN — A man described by neighbors as upstanding and politically active died Thursday after being Tasered by Chicago Police.
Philip Coleman, 38, “became combative” with officers Thursday while being taken from the Calumet District police station to court, according to a police statement.
Neighbors and family said Coleman was acting out of character Wednesday night and appeared to be having a "nervous breakdown" in front of his parents' home in the 12800 block of South Morgan Street.
"The loss is such a shock to my family," said Percy Coleman, Philip's father, at the family home. "People in here can hardly breathe."
Mark Bowen, 48, and other neighbors said when police arrived at the house Wednesday, they pleaded with authorities to take Philip Coleman to a nearby hospital and not to jail.
"I was trying to get him to calm down," Bowen said. Bowen said he told Coleman, "Philip, it's OK. Let them help you."
"He wouldn't hurt a fly," said Bowen, who has known Coleman they were kids.
Sources said Coleman was a regular volunteer for Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition. A University of Chicago graduate, Coleman was listed as Director of Hospice Education for Rainbow/PUSH in online documents from 2003 to 2008, but the organization could not be reached for comment.
En route to court Thursday, Coleman was Tasered and taken to Roseland Hospital, where he became physically aggressive with hospital staff and officers, police said.
He was Tasered again there. A police source said medical personnel had given Coleman a sedative after the tasering at the hospital to calm him down.
“Once again, reasonable force was employed, including a Taser deployment, to gain control of the offender,” police stated.
Coleman was admitted to Roseland and pronounced dead there at 5:47 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
About 7 p.m. Wednesday night, officers responded to a domestic disturbance call and found that Coleman had "battered" his 69-year-old mother, causing head and leg injuries, police said.
“While attempting to take the offender into custody, the offender became combative and spat blood at an officer and sergeant, striking them in the face,” according to police.
Coleman was taken to the Calumet District station for processing, and his mother was taken to Metro South Hospital for treatment of her injuries, police said.
The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating, a spokesman said.
Dana Robinson, who lives on the same block as Coleman, told DNAinfo.com Chicago that he saw Coleman talking to himself in an alley Wednesday evening.
"It was just rambling, but it was loud," Robinson, 50, said. "Like he was angry."
Coleman approached Robinson and his wife in their garage aggressively.
It was out of character for his neighbor, Robinson said.
"I didn't know this guy," he said. "I've never seen him act like this before."
Robinson said he saw Coleman trying to climb a barbed-wire fence in the alley, bloodying his hands. Robinson said he closed the garage door to get away from Coleman, but Coleman slipped underneath the door.
Robinson said Coleman's father drove down the alley; Coleman chased after him and struck him, Robinson.
Then Coleman fell to his knees in the alley, with his arms stretched toward the sky, Robinson said.
Robinson and his wife drove up Morgan Street. The last thing he saw, he said, was Coleman running towards two police officers who were on the scene.
"I thought he was going to get shot," Robinson said.
Contributing: Mark Konkol