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:
“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.”