Two summers ago, at the age of 17, Hadi Abu-Atelah found himself in the national spotlight after viral videos showed Oak Lawn police officers punching him repeatedly as he was on the ground, allegedly lying on top of a bag that contained a firearm.
Last May, prosecutors charged 18-year-old Sami Hirmiz with striking a Chicago Ridge police officer with his car while fleeing a traffic stop. After striking the officer, Hirmiz sped into Indiana with Illinois State Police troopers following him in cars and a helicopter, officials said. Indiana authorities picked up the chase with their own squad cars and a second helicopter.
On Friday, Abu-Atelah and Hirmiz stood together in a suburban Chicago courtroom, charged with attacking and robbing a mutual acquaintance inside a fitness center locker room.
Judge Linzey Jones was not convinced by prosecutors’ arguments that the two men posed a public safety threat. He released them to await trial on the charge, although he kept Hirmiz in custody for violating pretrial release on the Chicago Ridge allegations and a separate DUI charge.
Prosecutor Meghan Jirasek told the judge that a 19-year-old man was in the locker room at Lifetime Fitness in Orland Park on December 10 when Abu-Atelah, Hirmiz, and a third man walked in.
The three men kicked and punched the victim, and Hirmiz took the man’s phone, Jirasek said, according to a transcript of the proceeding.
She said a witness saw four young men kicking and punching a man who was on the floor. That witness saw the victim’s phone fall to the ground. One of the attackers picked it up, made a comment about the phone, and took it with him as the group left the locker room.
The victim was treated at a hospital for a traumatic closed displaced fracture of his right shoulder, Jirasek continued. She said surveillance video from the fitness center showed Hirmiz, Abu-Atelah, and a third man entering the locker room about a minute after the victim. They left about two minutes later.
Jirasek said Abu-Atelah is on juvenile probation for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, apparently stemming from the incident that went viral in Oak Lawn. In a separate juvenile case, he received a finding of guilty for fleeing and eluding, Jirasek said.
Prosecutors asked a judge to revoke Hirmiz’s pretrial release in November when he picked up a DUI charge while awaiting trial for allegedly striking the cop with his car, Jirasek said. The judge denied the motion and sent him home with a nighttime curfew instead, according to Jirasek.
Representing Hirmiz, private attorney Dennis Doherty disputed that any robbery occurred.
“The gentleman’s phone fell on the ground,” Doherty argued. He claimed that after police arrested Hirmiz, another man went to the police station and admitted on video that he was the person who took the phone, not Hirmiz.
“So I believe it’s a fight,” Doherty continued. “It’s not a robbery. It’s a fight between young men that know each other.”
Jirasek countered, “There are questions as to his motivations for coming in and stating this.”
Ultimately, Judge Jones was unconvinced that the state had sufficiently proven that Hirmiz took the phone or that robbery was the motive for the alleged attack.
He ordered Himriz to be released on electronic monitoring with a 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew if the judge overseeing his other cases allows him to get out of jail. According to court records, that judge, Terry Gallagher, allowed Himriz to go home on Monday.
Abu-Atelah’s lawyer, also privately hired, argued, “My client left as this fight took place and had nothing to do with the robbery… Judge, not one person puts Hadi Abu-Atelah as a person who was touching or assisting in the taking of this phone.”
Jones released Abu-Atelah with standard instructions to show up for court, avoid contact with the victim, and stay out of trouble. He also placed him on a GPS monitor.
Cook County prosecutors filed aggravated battery and official misconduct charges against Oak Lawn police officer Patrick O’Donnell in connection with Abu-Atelah’s 2022 arrest. The case is still pending. A federal civil lawsuit against the Village of Oak Lawn, O’Donnell, two other officers, and the city’s police chief is also ongoing.