A suit filed today by by Crystal Lake’s Pete Sonneville echoes one the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department lost to Jerome and Carla Pavlin.
Sheriff’s deputies entered the Pavlin home north of Crystal Lake seeking their son without a search warrant.
They broke the glass section of the front door and took photos, including one from the top of the stairway on the second floor.
Both husband and wife were injured in the incident.
The Pavlin’s sued claiming their 4th Amendment right to be free of search without a warrant had been violated..
Rockford Federal Judge Frederick Kapala ruled that the Sheriff’s Deputies had violated the Pavlin’s right to be free of search and seizure.
A settlement was reached after that decision with the Pavlin’s getting paid $300,000.
As in the Pavlin case, Sonneville’s attorney is Louis J. Meyer.
Here are the facts as laid out in the suit against Keith Nygren, Michael Muraski, Robb Tadelman, Jeffrey Fields and McHenry County:
On October 6, 2014, Plaintiff was inside his house located in Crystal Lake, Illinois, where he has lived with his family for approximately 15 years.
Shortly before the incident, Plaintiff had stopped at home, parked his company truck in the driveway, and went inside to clean up before some professional sales calls.
At approximately 2:20 p.m., Plaintiff was preparing to take a shower.
Plaintiff went into the master bedroom, turned on a radio, and disrobed.
Right before Plaintiff was about to get in the shower, he heard some voices in his house.
At first, Plaintiff thought it might be his daughter and some of her friends. In fact, the voices were of three McHenry County Sheriff’s deputies, Defendants MURASKI, FIELDS and TADELMAN.
The Defendant-Officers searched Plaintiff’s house. No contraband or evidence of criminal activity was found.
The voices got louder and Plaintiff heard someone banging on his bedroom door.
The person banging on Plaintiff’s bedroom door ordered Plaintiff to come out of his bedroom. Upon information and belief, this person was Defendant MURASKI.
Plaintiff informed the Defendants that he was about to get in the shower and did not have any clothes on. Plaintiff also asked who they were.
Defendant MURASKI stated they were McHenry County Sheriffs and that Plaintiff had to exit his bedroom.
Plaintiff told the Defendant-Officers to hold on as he was trying to get dressed.
Defendant MURASKI continued to bang on the bedroom door and again ordered Plaintiff put on some clothes and went to open his bedroom door.
When Plaintiff opened his door, he observed Defendants MURASKI, FIELDS and TADELMAN in the hallway pointing guns directly at him.
Defendant MURASKI ordered Plaintiff to show his hands and identify himself.
Plaintiff complied and informed the Defendant-Officers that he was the owner of the house.
The Defendant-Officers continued to point their guns at Plaintiff.
The Defendant-Officers seized Plaintiff.
There was not probable cause or any other legal justification to seize Plaintiff.
Plaintiff told the officers that they had no right to be in his house.
Plaintiff ordered the Defendant-Officers out of his house.
Later, when Plaintiff complained of the Defendant-Officers’ conduct, Lt. Popovich of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department told Plaintiff that his deputies had “exigent circumstances” to enter Plaintiff’s house without a warrant.
At the time the Defendant-Officers entered Plaintiff’s house, there were no signs of forced entry; they were not chasing anyone into Plaintiff’s house; they had not been told that someone was inside Plaintiff’s house; and there were no 911 calls regarding intruders at Plaintiff’s house. Notably, Plaintiff’s clearly marked work truck was parked in his driveway, right next to the door the Defendant-Officers entered.
Each individual Defendant-Officer acted willfully and wantonly, maliciously, and with a conscious disregard and deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s rights.
As a direct and proximate result of the acts of the Defendants described above, Plaintiff suffered damages including loss of physical liberty, emotional distress, and pecuniary damages for monies used to install a new door.
There are seven counts in the suit:
- Unreasonable seizure (Pointing guns at Sonneville without a reasonable suspicion he was involved in criminal activity at the time)
- Unreasonable seizure (Outside his bedroom, presenting no danger to the officers, they violated Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment right, as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, to be free from the use of excessive and unreasonable force.)
- Unreasonable search of the home (Officers did not have a search warrant, consent, exigent circumstances, or any other legal justification to search Plaintiff’s home.)
- Monell Claim against Sheriff Keith Nygren (see below)
- State Law Claim for Assault (The officers pointed loaded guns at Plaintiff who was unarmed and in his own home. The act of pointing the loaded guns at Plaintiff placed Plaintiff in fear of being shot.)
- State Law Respondeat Superior Claim (The acts of the Defendant-Officers described in the above state-law claim for assault were willful and wanton, and committed in the scope of employment. Pursuant to respondeat superior, Defendant Nygren is liable for his agents’ actions.)
- Indemnification Claim (The acts described were willful and wanton, and committed in the scope of employment. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court order Defendant McHenry County to indemnify the other defendants.)
A Monell claim is regularly made against those in authority. It alleges that supervision was improper.
Such claims are rarely won, but it seems that Myer is going to make a real run at proving this one.
Here is what he states:
The incident alleged in this Complaint was part of a pattern and practice of Defendant NYGREN in failing to properly supervise his officers.
At all times material to this Complaint, there existed in the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department the following practices, policies and customs:
a. Illegal entry and searches of homes,
b. a code of silence in which officers fail to report officer misconduct,
c. failure to adequately supervise and discipline officers in the categories and fields of police work addressed above,
d. failure to adequately investigate complaints against officers,
The actions of Defendants MURASKI, FIELDS and TADELMAN as alleged in this Complaint were committed pursuant to, and as a result of, one or more of the above de facto practices, policies and customs of Defendant NYGREN, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department, and its officers.
In the case of Pavlin v. McHenry County, et. al., No. 09-cv-50154, Judge Kapala found that the Defendant McHenry County Sheriff’s deputies had violated the Pavlin’s Fourth Amendment Rights when they illegally entered the Pavlin’s home. Even after Judge Kapala’s ruling, Defendant NYGREN defended the deputies stating “Our officers did nothing wrong. Our people did the right thing, and I support them 100 percent.”
On October 9, 2014, Lt. Popovich told the Northwest Herald that proper protocol was followed regarding Plaintiff’s situation and that a warrant was not needed to enter Plaintiff’s
Such statements made by Defendant NYGREN and other ranking members of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department in support of deputies that have been found to have violated civilians’ constitutional ights has fostered an environment wherein deputies, such as Defendants MURASKI, FIELDS and TADELMAN, are able to violate civilians’ civil rights without fear of punishment or reprimand from their superiors, including Defendant NYGREN.
Defendant NYGREN, as the official policy maker within the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department, acted with deliberate indifference to the rights of Plaintiff in maintaining, overlooking and preserving the unconstitutional practices, policies and customs delineated above.
By Defendant NYGREN’s inaction and failure to correct the above-described practices, policies and customs, municipal policy-makers tacitly approve and thus indirectly authorize the type of misconduct Plaintiff complains of herein.
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The full filing can be found here.