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Police officers sued for allegedly ‘abandoning’ man during mental health crisis

Courtesy: Clifford Law Offices, Chicago, IL

(NEW LENOX, Ill.) -- An Illinois man discharged from a hospital during a mental health crisis last year was "abandoned" by police in a parking lot late at night, only to be hit by a car shortly after, suffering traumatic brain injuries, a recent lawsuit alleges.

A complaint filed last month in Will County Circuit Court alleges that two officers with the New Lenox, Illinois, police department committed willful and wanton conduct after dropping 24-year-old Qusai Alkafaween off in a dark, empty parking lot shortly before midnight on Dec. 5, 2020.

The complaint also alleges that Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox negligently discharged Alkafaween during his mental health crisis when "he was a danger to himself and others and unable to protect himself."

Officers from the Orland Park Police Department brought Alkafaween, of Worth, Illinois, to the hospital that day after a gas station attendant reported he was "acting erratically," Jack Casciato, a partner at Clifford Law Offices in Chicago and one of the attorneys representing Alkafaween, said during a press briefing Wednesday.

Alkafaween has schizophrenia and was "experiencing delusions," Casciato said. He was treated and discharged after several hours, though the complaint alleges the hospital was negligent in failing to transfer Alkafaween to a mental health facility or order a psychiatric consultation.

Silver Cross Hospital does not comment on pending litigation, spokesperson Debra Robbins said in a statement to ABC News.

Officers from the New Lenox Police Department called to the hospital were advised that Alkafaween "had been treated, discharged from the hospital, and needed to leave the property," Deputy Chief Micah Nuesse said in a statement to ABC News.

"An officer provided Mr. Alkafaween a ride to a location in Orland Park," said Nuesse, who did not make any additional comments on the incident due to the pending litigation.

About 40 seconds of body camera footage released by Alkafaween's attorneys show Alkafaween exiting the police car in a parking lot. When the officer asked if he knew where to go from there, Alkafaween responded, "No."

"You want to help me with that?" Alkafaween asked, to which the officer replied, "This is as far as I can take you right now."

Alkafaween did not have a cell phone, according to the complaint, which alleges that the officers failed to follow department policies that require officers to take a person in crisis to an approved mental health facility.

Shortly after midnight, Alkafaween was hit by a car while walking in the area and transported to Silver Cross Hospital, where he was "diagnosed with numerous traumatic injuries including a subdural hematoma, a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and numerous other internal injuries" and released after several weeks, according to the complaint.

"[The officers] consciously and/or intentionally chose to not bring him home or to a mental health facility but instead abandoned him in an empty parking lot knowing he was a danger to himself at that time and knowing the area where he was abandoned placed him in imminent danger," the complaint alleges.

No charges were brought against the driver, according to Alkafaween's attorneys.

Alkafaween, a native of Jordan who was planning to attend the University of Illinois (Chicago), still suffers from cognitive impairment due to his injuries and is unable to attend college, according to his attorneys.

The lawsuit is seeking monetary damages of at least $50,000 for five counts, and is demanding a jury trial. A case management hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 31, 2022, court records show.

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