CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County sheriff’s police removed the clothes of a deceased accident victim and took photographs of her nude body along the side of the road, a lawsuit claims.
Jessica C. Mejia, 20, was killed in a Dec. 31, 2009, crash near 147th Street and Justamere Road in an unincorporated area southwest of Chicago. Responding Cook County Sheriff’s police removed the dead woman’s clothing at the scene and took multiple nude photographs, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court.
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Nicholas Sord, who reportedly was a business partner with former Blackhawks star Denis Savard, was charged with reckless homicide and driving under the influence in the crash.
The suit claims investigators removed Mejia’s clothing without medical justification in view of passersby and onlookers. It also says investigators did not follow Cook County Sheriff’s police and Cook County Medical Examiner’s office protocol.
The suit says investigators “failed to treat decedent with the dignity and the respect due her by removing her clothes, by photographing her nude body in various positions none of which were required by protocol, and by allowing passersby and other responders to view her naked person.”
The Cook County Sheriff’s Department challenged the claims.
“From the moment our officers arrived upon the scene of this horrific crash one year ago, we have worked hard to provide justice to the family of the victim,” Cook County Sheriff’s office spokesman Steve Patterson said in a statement. “While we’ve remained in contact with them, we’ve never before heard of the bizarre scenario this lawsuit describes.
“There were multiple independent witnesses on the scene that night and crime scene photographs taken which would have prevented the scenario described from happening. We’re sorry for the family’s loss.”
Sord, 22, of Orland Park, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.236 percent — almost four times the state’s legal 0.08 limit — when he rammed his Mercedes sport-utility vehicle into a pole, Cook County Sheriff’s officials said.
Mejia, a University of Illinois at Chicago student from New Lenox, had dated Sord, but the two broke up the summer before the crash.
The four-count suit — filed by Christina Mejia, Gabriela Mejia, Louis Mejia Jr. and Louis Mejia III — is seeking more than $200,000 for “severe and extreme distress.”
Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire