A black hospital patient who was accused of stealing medical equipment speaks out

Posted at 6:50 PM, Jul 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 20:50:37-04

Shaquille Dukes said he doesn’t want financial compensation for being handcuffed outside a hospital where he was a patient. He just wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Dukes went for a walk on June 9 outside FHN Memorial Hospital in Freeport, Illinois, with his brother and boyfriend after being hospitalized for pneumonia.

The 24-year-old black man was wearing a hospital gown and an IV drip in his arm when a security guard called out to them and asked what they were doing, he said.

Dukes raised his arm to show that he was a patient, he said. But the guard called them over and said, “well to me it looks like you guys are stealing this (equipment),'” Dukes told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin.

Dukes said the accusations made no sense to him. Maybe if they were blocks away from the hospital, or if Dukes were wearing regular clothes and “carrying the pole in my arms,” he said.

But neither was the case, he said.

“I was in a hospital gown with no clothes and with medicine pumping into my veins, so I’m not sure how we could have seemed as if we were attempting to steal it or posed this threat that he speaks of.”

Nevertheless, the guard called Freeport Police, who arrested all three men and charged them with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, in what Dukes firmly believes was a case of racial profiling.

“I truly feel that because of how we looked, the situation spiraled into something other than what it needed to be,” he said.

Now, nearly one month later, Dukes says he is still waiting for the situation to be resolved.

“We really wanted to truly see reform or policies stood up around this situation and that has not happened,” he said.

“And it’s clear it won’t happen without some outside oversight.”

The Freeport Police Department confirmed that Dukes filed a complaint “alleging unfair and biased conduct by responding officers.”

The department said it has retained a third-party investigator to “gather the facts, interview all parties involved, and determine whether officers conducted themselves in adherence to department policies and guidelines.”

The hospital declined CNN’s request for comment, citing patient privacy.

Dukes said he met with Freeport city officials and a representative from FHN Memorial Hospital within days of the incident, hopeful for a resolution.

He said he was caught off guard by the hospital representative’s comments.

“He said pretty much, ‘we wanted to give you this opportunity for this dialogue, but we really just want to figure out what are you proposing? What would look like victory to you in this situation?'” Dukes said.

“I told him if you’re insinuating there’s some monetary — something that could make this go away, I said you’re ignorant,” he said. “It’s insulting and I feel like I’m being handled and I ended the meeting,” he said.

As for police, he said “they’re playing this game of, we’re investigating, we’re looking into it.”

“They’ve been doing nothing except blowing smoke,” he said.

Unsatisfied with their response, Dukes sharedhis account on Facebook, sparking widespread outrage that continues today.

“Had he simply even attempted to verify or send someone inside to double check our story we wouldn’t be here,” Dukes said.