CHICAGO (STMW) – Two Chicago Police officers allegedly reassigned, and later cleared, in a police brutality investigation filed a slander lawsuit Tuesday against police Supt. Jody Weis.
Chicago Police officers Lynn Meuris and Jason Vanna claim Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis slandered them at an Oct. 15 press conference about police misconduct involving brutality, according to a suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.
Minutes after the press conference, a commanding officer called Meuris and Vanna and told them to report immediately to the Gresham District with their police star, shield and identification, according to the report.
The suit claims they were met by a sergeant, placed in a marked police car in the presence of their coworkers and taken to Chicago Police Headquarters, where they were escorted through the front entrance past a group of reporters and news cameras and to the Internal Affairs Division, where they were officially stripped of their police powers.
Meuris and Vanna were told they would be assigned to administrative duty, but because the paperwork had not yet been completed that they would have to use their compensatory time until the reassignment was finalized, according to the suit.
On Oct. 18, Weis held another press conference where he said the allegations were taken “very seriously” and “there’s just no room for any type of brutality,” according to the suit. The suit lists four other defamatory statements allegedly made by Weis, who at the time already had evidence that proved Meuris and Vanna were not at the scene, the suit said.
The Fraternal Order of Police held a press conference Oct. 20 and presented GPS records that showed the officers were not at the scene, the suit said. Officers Meuris and Vanna were reinstated later that day, according to the suit.
The three-count suit claims defamation, false light and reckless infliction of emotional distress. It claims Weis’ statements implied Meuris and Vanna committed a crime and were unable to perform their job.
The suit provides three stories about the press conferences — two by NBC and one by the Chicago Sun-Times. None of the stories list Meuris and Vanna by name, however, an Oct. 21 NBC story identifies the officers as “a male and female from District 6.”
Meuris and Vanna are seeking more than $150,000 in compensatory and $150,000 in punitive damages from Weis and the City of Chicago.
Neither the city Dept. of Law nor police News Affairs responded to requests for comments as of Tuesday evening.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)