Federal Suit Against Woodstock Police Officers & City Government

Two Woodstock Police officers, plus the City of Woodstock, have been sued in Federal Court by Phillip Williams of Woodstock.

The are Eric Schmidtke and Sharon Freund.

The law firm is Meyer & Kiss. LLC.

The suit stems from an August, 28, 2016, traffic stop by Officer Schmidtke “without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, and performed an illegal search of the car,” the suit says.

Officer Freund arrived at “the traffic stop and quickly learned that Defendant Schmidtke had no probable cause or reasonable suspicion to prolong the traffic stop, yet she was complicit with the violation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights and conspired with Defendant Schmidtke to illegally detain then search Plaintiff and his vehicle, ” the Court filing continues.

In the resulting criminal case, Schmidtke wrote “a false police report and testify falsely about the events surrounding Plaintiff’s arrest.”

Unbeknownst to the Police Officers, however, there was a “videotape [that] proves not only that Defendant Schmidtke author[ed] a false police report and lie[d] to the Grand Jury that indicted Plaintiff, but that both Defendants were complicit with the lie.”

Plaintiff Williams won the criminal case, evidence in which involved  search of his vehicle by Officer Freund’s a K-9 dog Blue for which no permission was given.

The lawsuit then says,

“Blue allegedly alerted on Plaintiff’s vehicle.

“Following the unreasonable seizure, a bag containing marijuana was recovered from the trunk of Plaintiff’s car. This bag was discovered only as a result of the illegal detention of Plaintiff.

“The illegal detention and eventual search of Plaintiff car was unlawful. There was insufficient legal justification to delay the traffic stop of Plaintiff.”

Williams was charged with felony drug crimes which cost “thousands of dollars” to defend.

The suit claims “Schmidtke testified falsely before a Grand Jury to secure an indictment.”

Before the Grand Jury testimony, the Plaintiff claims Schmidtke and Freund met and “reached an agreement to write reports and testify falsely about how the traffic stop of Plaintiff was handled.”

“Schmidtke wrote in his report and testified that when he first approached Plaintiff’s car and was speaking with him, he was able to detect the order of cannabis emitting from inside Plaintiff’s car. That was false. On the squad car video, Defendant Schmidtke can be clearly heard telling Defendant Freund that he was not able to smell anything in Plaintiff’s car.”

Further, “Schmidtke lied about smelling the cannabis in an attempt to justify the illegal prolonged detention of Plaintiff during the traffic stop” and that testimony led to the Grand Jury indictment.

On October 20, 2016, at a status hearing for Plaintiff’s criminal case, the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s nolle prosse’d [dismissed] the criminal case…The criminal charges were dismissed against Plaintiff in a manner indicative of his innocence,” the text continues.

The suit claims the course of action “constitutes the tort of malicious prosecution under state and federal law.”

“Conspiracy” is also alleged.

“The misconduct described herein was

  • objectively unreasonable, and
  • undertaken with malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference

to the rights of others such that the Defendants’ actions shock the conscience.”

The City of Woodstock also is taken on:

wdstk-squad-car-partial

Woodstock Police car.

“Plaintiff’s injuries were proximately caused by a policy and practice on the part of the City of Woodstock to pursue wrongful convictions in drug cases through untruthful testimony.

“In this way, the City of Woodstock violated Plaintiff’s rights by maintaining policies and practices which were the moving force driving the foregoing constitutional violations.

“The above-described widespread practices, so well-settled as to constitute de facto policy in the Woodstock Police Department, existed because municipal policymakers with authority over the same exhibited deliberate indifference to the problem, thereby effectively ratifying it.

“The widespread practices described in the preceding paragraphs were allowed to flourish because the City of Woodstock declined to implement sufficient training and/or any legitimate mechanism for oversight or punishment.

“Indeed, the Department’s system for investigating and disciplining police officers accused of this type of misconduct was, and is, for all practical purposes, nonexistent.

“As a result, officers are led to believe that they can act with impunity, thereby encouraging the very type of abuses which befell Plaintiff.

“All of Defendants’ interactions with Plaintiff and the criminal case brought against him were undertaken under color of law, and within the scope of their employment.”


Comments

Federal Suit Against Woodstock Police Officers & City Government — 26 Comments

  1. Good.

    Woodstock PD are ruthless.

    Hope that have to fire ten officers to cover the cost of the lawsuit.

  2. Dogs can be very good at detecting drugs, but they can also be trained by unscrupulous handlers to give false alerts in order to justify a search where no consent is given and probable cause is absent.

    It can be a very effective end run around the fourth amendment.

    I’m not saying that is what happened here, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility.

  3. Obviously they made a huge goof up of some kind.

    The decision wasn’t even made in an Appeals Court.

    It was actually the McHenry County State’s Attorney that decided to drop charges..

  4. This probably wasn’t the first time an incident such as
    this took place.

    Otherwise, they wouldn’t have instituted
    a search in the first place.

  5. “This probably wasn’t the first time an incident such as this took place. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have instituted a search in the first place.”

    It’s called being the wrong shade of brown in the wrong town.

  6. This is a drug that should be legalized and taxed instead of wasting $$$$ on it with hire police budgets.

    Even the drug booze has been medically proven to be worst over all.

  7. Such a curious case.

    It would seem that the State’s Attorney’s Office dropped charges without a hearing.

    At the hearing they could have argued that the stop wasn’t prolonged unnecessarily.

    They could have argued that the dog sniffing outside a vehicle was not a search, and finally they could have argued that the drugs could have been discovered without the officer detecting any smell (because it wasn’t a search), and therefore his allegedly “false” statements before and after didn’t taint the discovery of the marijuana.

    But instead they just dropped the case without a hearing.

    Very curious.

  8. If the officer smelled marijuana, he already had PC to search the car and didn’t need to wait for the dog.

    The fact that he called in the dog before he started searching leads me to believe that he didn’t smell it.

    If he didn’t smell marijuana , he wasn’t legally allowed to detain the driver for any longer than the traffic stop would normally take.

    The article doesn’t mention what Mr Williams was stopped for, or how long he was detained before the K-9 showed up. Those are both highly relevant details.

  9. A stop for expired plates shouldn’t take very long if the car belonged to Mr Williams and he had a valid DL with him.

    I wonder how much time elapsed from the initial stop until the K-9 showed up and signaled that drugs were present?

  10. There’s nothing on the McHenry County Circuit Court website on this case.

    Either it’s bad record keeping by the clerk, or else Mr Williams already had this arrest sealed or expunged.

    It’s been less than three months since Mr Williams was arrested.

    Cases generally don’t move anywhere near that fast.

    The SA’s office must have immediately realized that it was a total loser and dropped it like a hot potato.

  11. Did they give his marijuana back?

    Maybe the city can give back 3x confiscated as penalty and lawsuit can be dropped/Also driving with no insurance while carrying illegal drugs is stupid to not have the drugs insured.

    I believe WPD is a very responsible team that is adjusting to the mixed culture environment thrown to our community.

    The law is important and should be adhered to but the bad guys should still be the ones held accountable.

  12. Today’s NW Herald reports that Officer Schmidtke just resigned from the WPD.

    I wonder if criminal charges are in his future.

  13. I’m surprised Schmidtke got wrapped up in this.

    I always thought of him and one of the good guys.

  14. Chicago Tribune

    Prosecutors Reviewing Woodstock Pot Arrest That Led Officer to Resign

    by Robert McCoppin

    November 23, 2016

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-woodstock-police-officer-resigns-traffic-stop-lawsuit-met-20161123-story.html

    “Longtime Woodstock police officer Eric Schmidtke resigned after dash-cam video of an August traffic stop appeared to contradict his claims that he smelled marijuana in the car before a canine search of the vehicle turned up 17 pounds of pot.

    Charges against the driver were dropped and he has sued the city over the stop.

    The video was obtained by the driver’s attorney’s while defending him against the criminal charges.”

  15. Woodstock Police Pension Fund records

    Fiscal Year May 1, 2014 – April 30, 2015

    Name – Current Salary – Creditable Service

    Eric Schmidtke – $83,991 – 18 years

    Sharon Freund – $56,141 – 2 years

    source:

    Better Government Association

    Public Safety Pension Portal

    http://www.bettergov.org > Tools & Data > Information Databases > Public Safety Pension Portal > Agency: Woodstock > Annual Statements: 2015 Police

  16. Woodstock Police Pension Fund

    Year – Unfunded Liability (Taxpayer IOU to the Pension Fund) – Percent Funded

    2014 – $9,621,710 – 65.6%

    2013 – $9,188,993 – 65.6%

    2012 – $8,656,885 – 65.9%

    2011 – $8,734,770 – 63.9%

    2010 – $8,447,069 – 61.5%

    2009 – $8,932,357 – 55.3%

    2008 – $6,709,335 – 66.2%

    2007 – $5,157,350 – 70.9%

    2006 – $5,020,708 – 69.7%

    2005 – $5,138,733 – 65.6%

    note: Date as of April 30th of each year.

    Source:

    Illinois Department of Insurance

    Public Pension Division

    2015 Biennial Report

    covering years 2013 – 2014

    Report issued: October 1, 2015

    http://insurance.illinois.gov/reports/report_links.asp

  17. Woodstock Police Pension Fund records

    Fiscal Year May 1, 2013 – April 30, 2014

    Name – Current Salary – Creditable Service

    Erick Schmidtke – $81,943 – 17 years

    Sharon Freund – $50,756 – 1 year

    source:

    Better Government Association

    Public Safety Pension Portal

    http://www.bettergov.org > Tools & Data > Information Databases > Public Safety Pension Portal > Agency: Woodstock > Annual Statements: 2014 Police

  18. The $9 Million Dollar Question: How to fully fund the Woodstock Police Pension and Cut Property Taxes 10%.

    +++++++++++++

    Cut 10 Committee

    A “Ballot Initiative Committee.”

    “Purpose: To pass a state wide referendum requiring all taxing bodies to reduce their levy by 10%.”

    Chairman and Treasurer of the ballot initiative committee: Steve Kling.

    Committee created August 26, 2016.

    D-1 Statement of Organization signed August 31, 2016.

    D-1 Statement of Organization appeared on the SBE website September 2, 2016.

    source: Illinois State Board of Elections (SBE).

    ++++++++

    Steve Kling has contributed to Jack Franks PACs (political action committees).

    He along with others were the first contributors to Jack Franks PACs on December 2, 1997.

  19. The organizational meeting at which the oath of office is administered to the newly elected McHenry County Board Members is Monday December 5, 2016, 9AM, at the County Board Room, Administration Building, McHenry County Government Center, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock.

    Presumably Jack Franks will be sworn in as McHenry County Board Chair at this meeting.

    Jack Franks promised the following during his campaign for the McHenry County Board Chair position:

    “I’m running for McHenry County Board Chairman to cut property taxes levy by 10% across the board.

    This means a 10% property tax levy reduction from EVERY government body in our County.

    We can finally give relief to local property taxpayers if we eliminate government waste and fraud and more efficiently manage tax dollars.

    Join me in sending a message to McHenry County leaders in support of this 10% cut.

    And know that I will introduce this plan on my first day as your new McHenry County Board Chairman.

    – Jack Franks.”

    http://www.CutMcHenryTaxes.com

    +++++++++++++++++++

    Jack Franks’ first day as McHenry County Board Chairman will be December 5, 2016.

  20. I’m glad Eric schmidtke is done he was the biggest piece of shit cop Woodstock had!!!

    Only thought with his dick and did not serve and protect he was a fuck that used intimidation to force fear out of people of color!

    I hope he loses the law suit and and ends up in prison getting butt raped

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