Lawsuit: Mundelein Police Attacked Man With Taser
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UPDATED 12/08/10 5:55 a.m.
MUNDELEIN, Ill. (CBS) – A man has filed a federal lawsuit against Mundelein police and two specific officers, saying he was brutally attacked during a traffic stop this past New Year’s Day.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports Steven Kotlinski of Hawthorn Woods claims police arrested his wife for drunken driving despite her being sober, and brutalized him by using their Taser on him a total of five times.
Kotlinski and his wife, Jean, filed the suit in U.S. District Court against the Village of Mundelein and Mundelein police officers Anthony Raciak and Richard Turek over the 2010 New Year’s Day incident, which was caught on dashboard camera.
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The Kotlinskis had just left a New Year’s Eve party with their children, 22-year-old Craig, 20-year-old Corey and a 22-year-old family friend, when they noticed a squad car tailgating their car.
Police activated the emergency lights and Jean Kotlinski pulled the car to the side of the road. Police asked if she had been drinking and she said she was the designated driver, the suit said.
Officer Raciak directed her to get out the car and performed an “extensive series of sobriety tests in the frigid January weather,” all of which were captured on the police car’s video camera, the suit claims.
The suit claims Jean Kotlinski was then taken in front of the police vehicle out of view of her husband, who got out of the car to check on her.
As soon as he got out the car, Officer Turek rushed towards him with his Taser drawn and threatened to use it, the suit alleges. Officer Raciak also took out his Taser and pointed it at him.
Steven Kotlinski told the officer he had a heart condition and got back into the car. Officer Raciak then pushed Jean Kotlinski up against the car, handcuffed her and placed her in a squad car, the suit said.
The lawsuit says Raciak then “violently” opened the car door and tried to pull Steven Kotlinski out. This is seen about 9 minutes into the tape.
When Kotlinksi doesn’t immediately get out the officer attempts to pull him out. The crackle of the Taser is audible as the officer attempts to subdue the man.
Then the officer pulls Kotlinski out of the vehicle as he appears to struggle.
The crackle of the Taser can be heard again as the officer tells Kotlinski to stop resisting.
Kotlinski then starts yelling that he has a heart condition. He then screams for paramedics.
Police eventually did call for an ambulance, and Kotlinski was treated at the scene. He was eventually convicted of obstructing justice and resisting a peace officer, but was found not guilty of aggravated battery. He says he is appealing his conviction.
Jean Kotlinski faced no charges, after tests proved she had a blood alcohol level of 0.00 percent, the suit alleges.
The seven-count suit, which seeks a jury trial, alleges the officers used excessive and “unjustifiable violence,” which is captured on video.
It also claims violation of the Fourth Amendment for excessive force and illegal seizure, as well as false arrest, failure to intervene, malicious prosecution and battery.
“I was Tasered five times in less than a minute and a half,” Kotlinski told WBBM Newsradio 780. “Instead of coming clean with what really happened, they made up all these lies.”
But the officers testified in court that Kotlinski abused them by resisting and hurling obscenities at them.
The suit seeks punitive damages against the village and the officers, as well as attorney fees and any additional relief.
Mundelein Police Deputy Chief Eric Guenther on Tuesday said he could not comment because the department had not yet been formally served with the papers.