Although there are many questions and a pending investigation by the Office of Professional Standards, it is hard for the family of Patricia Cobige to understand how she died while in police lockup at the Grand Central District at 5555 W. Grand Ave. early on the morning of June 12. Cobige was found unresponsive and pronounced dead around 2:30 a.m.
Reportedly, Cobige had been arrested for drug possession and was complaining about stomach pains, saying she needed medical attention. According to a report in the Sun-Times, the Cook County Sheriff’s logs confirm her request, as do other women who were in a cell with Cobige.
Her son, Maurice, reportedly has retained the legal services of attorney Jeffrey Granich. On June 19, funeral services were held for Patricia Cobige at Mount Olive Church, 5729 W. Chicago Ave. She was described by friends and family as someone who cared about people and children, often giving nicknames to youngsters in her Parkside Avenue neighborhood. A poem was read titled, “What Makes Flower Grow.” When the minister began his eulogy, he said, “I’ll see you when I get there.”
After the burial in west suburban Forest Park, family and friends returned to the Grand Avenue station where Cobige died to hold a vigil. Attorney Granich stated, “I wanted to say something at the church, but I didn’t know Ms. Cobige, and I didn’t think it was appropriate. But I know who killed her because I’ve been fighting against them for 15 years. It is a system, and it is a system of insensitivity, and a system of indifference that killed Ms. Cobige and makes us be here today. And I swear something to myself and would like to say it all to you, that we’re going to get justice on this case. We’re going to make sure this does not happen to anyone again in this town, in the city, hopefully in this country. When anyone of us ask for help from the people who are sworn and paid to protect us, they don’t kill us no matter what color, no matter what race, no matter what religion.”
Maurice Cobige said, “This is a holy spot for me right now. My mother is gone, and you only get one mother in life. We’re here in remembrance of my mother, Patricia Cobige. I’ll never forget her and never forget what happened to her. That’s why I’m here today. The community and my family are here to support me today because she was treated wrong. It’s a case of negligence. Are they above the law to treat my mother like that?”
“I was notified the next day after she died,” Maurice said. “My cousin called me, and he had seen it on TV already. There has been no explanation, nothing. I don’t have her property or anything. They told me my mother repeatedly asked for help, asked for medical attention. They took her to the jail and the jail even told them to take her to the hospital. They didn’t take her to the hospital. They brought her back here [Grand Avenue] where she died in the cell. I think somebody should be prosecuted. I’m not going to sit down until I get some justice.”
Maurice and supporters then proceeded inside the station to confront officials. A Capt. Murphy came out to address the crowd. Maurice asked Murphy about his mother’s property and why no one had talked with him. Murphy stated, “I’m not prepared for a formal statement at this point.” When someone from the crowd asked if there was any remorse or sorrow, Murphy said, “We’re always sorry when someone dies.” The captain then asked for the TV cameras to be turned off and requested everyone leave the building.
Included in the group was a young lady who had been in the cell with Cobige on the night of the incident. Although she requested that her name be withheld, she did an on-camera interview with reporters, showing only her back.
The interview went as follows:
TV reporter: Were you there together?
Woman: I woke up. She had kicked me. Once I realize who it was, I knew her from the street, we cuddled up and went back to sleep. She woke up later on with the other females, but I was still sleep, they said she was complaining. Once I got up in the morning time to go to the county, she was complaining about her stomach.
TV reporter: What did she say to you?
Woman: She just told us her stomach was hurting and she needed attention.
TV reporter: How many times?
Woman: I can recollect two times on my own. When we got to the county, she thought she would get immediate attention. When we got there, they gave us a speech.
TV reporter: Tell me about that speech.
Woman: The county sheriff”they told you that you had to go back to the station to receive medical attention. The county sheriff told the officers to take her back to get medical attention. The officers told us that they were going to try to take her to the hospital and get her back before court was over with. But they never took her, they took her back to the station and threw her right back into the cell. They never took her. If they would have, she would have made it back to court, but court was over with. She never made it.
TV reporter: Did you hear them say anything to her [like] we’re not going to take her to the hospital, you’re dope sick?
Woman: They told her if you’re dope sick, they will not take you, so just go in there and tell them that you’re sick so you can be seen. She did ask for medical attention. She never got to Cook County. Cermak is the hospital you get in. There was 7 or 8 of us, about 7 or 8 women. Three white, the rest of us was black. All of us heard the same thing. I heard her saying she was sick.
Austin Weekly called Grand-Central District Commander Constantine Andrews (Area 3) numerous times for comment, but calls were not returned. According to other published reports, spokeswoman Monique Bond said Cobige went to Bond Court Sunday, but was taken back to a holding cell. A police investigation is pending and according to Atty. Granich, the autopsy did not find a conclusive cause of death.