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'We Don't Do Hospitals,' Police Allegedly Told Philip Coleman's Dad

By Wendell Hutson | December 18, 2012 2:13pm | Updated on December 19, 2012 6:49am
 Percy Coleman (c.) is surrounded by family members and the Rev. Jesse Jackson at a Tuesday news conference as he announces plans to sue Chicago Police in the Dec. 13 death of his son, Philip.
Percy Coleman (c.) is surrounded by family members and the Rev. Jesse Jackson at a Tuesday news conference as he announces plans to sue Chicago Police in the Dec. 13 death of his son, Philip.
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DNAinfo/Wendell Hutson

CHICAGO — A former Chicago Housing Authority police chief Tuesday said he holds Chicago Police responsible for the death of his son, Philip Coleman, who died after he was Tasered by police and given a sedative at a hospital.

"I will not stop until I get my justice for my son. I am in the process of getting into this legally," said Percy Coleman, who is also the former chief in Ford Heights and Robbins. "Philip was not an animal or a criminal, but a human being who was having mental breakdown."

The grieving father, who said he has not eaten or slept since his son's death, declared his intention to file suit against police at a Tuesday news conference at New Creation Binding and Loosing Ministries in south suburban Calumet Park. The church is led by the Rev. Jolinda Wade, mother of Miami Heat basketball star Dwyane Wade.

Philip Coleman, 38, suffered a breakdown Wednesday when he attacked his mother inside their Far South Side home, his father said.

"I was walking through the alley when my son walked up to me crying. He hugged and kissed me and started talking fast. I could hardly understand him," Percy Coleman said. "That's when he fell to his knees and said, 'Anybody who hits their mom deserves to die.' He then told me to shoot him. I knew then something was wrong."

At the time Percy Coleman was unaware of the attack on his wife, who had called police for assistance. Police arrived, and Percy Coleman said he subdued his son in order to keep officers from shooting him.

"I told them [police] that my son was having an emotional breakdown, and could they please take him to the hospital," recalled Percy. "And that's when one of the officers said, 'We do not do hospitals, we do jail.' Unbelievable."

At some point, Philip Coleman allegedly spit blood on officers. But Percy Coleman said his son "was spitting to clear his throat so he could breathe" — and didn't intentionally target officers.

He was taken into police custody, and as officers later escorted him to court from the Calumet District police station on the South Side, he "became combative" and was Tasered, officials said last week.

He was taken to Roseland Hospital, where he became aggressive, and officers Tasered him again, police said. A police source said medical personnel had given Coleman a sedative after he was Tasered at the hospital to calm him down. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 5:47 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

Percy Coleman said his son was Tasered three times. The Cook County medical examiner's office has not released autopsy results.

Police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton said the matter is under investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority.

But the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who stood behind Coleman at the news conference, said he does not trust an IPRA investigation.

"A special prosecutor should be appointed to this case just like the case involving Mayor Daley's nephew," asserted Jackson, referring to the prosecution of Richard Vanecko on manslaughter charges. "Philip was a board member of Rainbow/PUSH and was very passionate about helping people. He fell ill and needed help, and instead of getting help he got death."

Coleman, the youngest of three siblings, was divorced and had no children. He was a graduate of Morgan Park High School, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois-Chicago.

His funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th St., where he was a member.

"Man, I miss him," Jeffrey Coleman said of his younger brother. "I loved my brother, and now I will never see him again."