CHICAGO — Three days after a Chicago police officer was attacked with a baseball bat in West Englewood, police said they are questioning a person of interest in the beating.
The officer was taken to an area hospital in serious condition after he was hit in the head with a baseball bat while on duty Saturday.
Early Tuesday morning, police were questioning someone in connection with the attack but no charges had been filed, authorities said.
About 12:40 a.m. Saturday, the officer was called to the 5700 block of South Winchester Avenue for a battery in progress, said Officer Hector Alfaro, a police spokesman.
Alfaro said the officer was hit in the head with a baseball bat and was taken to Stroger Hospital in serious to critical condition. After the attack, Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden said the officer's condition was improving, but he was under observation and suffered bleeding on his brain. A police spokesman said the officer is expected to make a full recovery.
The officer was working alone in his squad car, Camden said. He said the officer arrived to the scene to find people fighting and called for backup. While he waited, he saw a man try to hit a woman with a baseball bat, Camden said.
When the officer confronted the man with the bat, he was attacked and hit in the head.
"Fortunately, help was arriving at that point," Camden said. But "had he been in a two-man car in the first place, that wouldn't have happened."
Camden said the incident underscores the union's concern that there are not enough cops to keep both the public and police safe.
"Our concerns are why would somebody in an area like Englewood be working a one-man car," he said. "It's obvious to the [union], and it has been for a while, that there is insufficient manpower on the police department. We have a mayor who balanced the budget on the back of public safety."
Both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy have touted the hiring of more police after a bloody 2012 that saw more than 500 homicides. The department is offering the police exam for the first time in three years, and assigned more officers to foot patrols in troubled neighborhoods.
The city has trumpeted statistics showing crime is down citywide, but those claims ring hollow to Camden, who says even more police need to be deployed.
"What do you do when you don't have the manpower? That's the issue," he said. "People [attacked] a uniformed police officer. They keep telling us crime is down in the city. I kind of doubt that."
No one was in custody in connection with the attack as of Saturday morning. A few blocks away in the 6300 block of South Oakley Avenue shortly before 11 p.m., someone fired at an undercover police car, striking it several times.