Man hospitalized after officer body slams him; Police say he spit on, licked an officer

CHICAGO (WLS/CNN) - A Chicago man was hospitalized after police body slammed him to the ground.

Chicago police say a man licked an officer's face before he was body slammed to the ground. (Source: Jovonna Alexiss Jamison, WLS via CNN)

Video showing a police officer take down Bernard Kersh, 29, has gone viral, but authorities say there's a good reason officers responded that way.

"When I seen it, I just dropped to my knees," said Keshia Johnson, the mother of the man shown on video being body slammed.

She says he was on his way back to their home at the time after picking up some alcoholic beverages for the family gathering for Thanksgiving.

"We were waiting to eat Thanksgiving dinner for him because he always blesses the table,” Johnson said.

She said she was on the phone with Kersh during this encounter with the officers when suddenly the call ended.

"I was at a loss. I didn't know what happened to him,” Johnson said.

Later, she got a call from Kersh's father.

"He said, ‘It is a video floating on Facebook of the police slamming somebody on 79th and Cottage,’ and I'm like 'What?' He said, ‘It don't look good,’" Johnson said.

Chicago police say the two officers approached Kersh who was drinking alcohol at a bus stop, and then they say he became "irate" threatening them.

They said he licked one officer’s face and then spit in the same officer's eye and mouth. After that, police say the officer performed an emergency takedown.

"I thought he was dead. I started praying,” said Jovonna Jamison, who recorded video of the incident.

Kersh was treated at a hospital, and he remains in police custody.

His mother says he is a father of two little girls, and that he’s schizophrenic and blind in one eye.

Johnson says the officer needs to be held accountable for his actions.

"He could have died from that hit on the head. Thank God he is still here. Anything could have happened," she said.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating the incident, and the officer could face disciplinary action.

Copyright 2019 WLS via CNN. All rights reserved.

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