A 20-year-old African-American Muslim man has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Tinley Park, claiming three white firefighters maliciously sprayed him with water because of his ethnicity or religion.
Tinley Park resident Omar E. Ali is seeking compensatory and punitive damages against the firefighters, attorney's fees and court costs in connection with the May 6 incident outside Fire Station No. 2.
In his lawsuit filed Monday in United States District Court, northern district of Illinois, Ali says he was walking alone on the 7800 block of 167th Street across from the fire station at about 2:30 p.m. when firefighters sprayed him with water from a fire hose. He was across the street at the time, according to the lawsuit.
Ali contends the experience caused him "pain, fear, wetness, discomfort, humiliation and severe emotional distress."
Ali is represented by Oakbrook Terrace-based attorney Richard Dvorak, who said he took the case because of the racial aspect.
"In this day and age, it shouldn't be taken lightly if it's shown that a firefighter used a hose against an African-American male," Dvorak said. "There is too much of a history of racism in our country for that to go unsanctioned."
Ali maintains the fire department employees targeted him because he was an African-American who was wearing a turban at the time.
Ali also wants the three firefighters to be charged with a hate crime under Illinois law, intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery and "willful and wanton misconduct."
Dvorak said he and Ali intend to ask the Cook County State's Attorney's office to file a battery charge against the unnamed firefighter accused of spraying him. Dvorak said they're also going to the Dept of Justice to request action on the "hate crime" allegation.