Attorney Jeanine Stevens has added one more client to the list of those she is assisting in legal battles with the Village of Forest Park and its police department.
Stevens was recently hired by Edison Reformado, who filed a complaint with the police department after he was allegedly punched and shot with an electronic stun gun several times by Officer Ken Gross. Reformado has admitted punching Gross, though he said he did not know Gross was a police officer. Gross had responded to a call regarding a brawl at Duffy’s Tavern, 7501 Madison St., on March 1.
According to Stevens, Reformado is planning both criminal and civil charges against Gross and the village, though she will only be representing him in his civil case.
Stevens is currently defending Sgt. Dan Harder in his ongoing termination hearings before the village’s Police and Fire Commission and in the federal discrimination lawsuit he filed against the village in March. She was also hired to defend Lt. Steve Johnsen, who remains on paid administrative leave after a private investigator hired by the village recommended termination or other disciplinary measures for the allegedly politically motivated arrest of Doc Ryan’s owner Jim Shaw last July.
“(Reformado) was Tasered five or six times when he was on the ground, with absolutely no ability to do anything,” said Stevens about her newest client. “It’s like the wild, wild west. Typical Forest Park,” she said.
Mayor Anthony Calderone said he could not comment on Stevens’ hiring due to the pending litigation. “I just heard about this today, actually, so I don’t have anything to say at this point,” he said on Monday.
Calderone is among those named in Harder’s federal lawsuit, and was deposed by Stevens when she was representing Harder, Sgt. Maureen Frawley and Off. Andrea Caines in their sexual harassment lawsuit against the village in 2002.
Following the incident at Duffy’s, Reformado, 19, admitted that he entered the bar with someone else’s ID and, after a verbal altercation with a DJ playing at the bar, came to the aid of some friends who were involved in a scuffle.
He said that after throwing a punch, he was escorted from the bar and then became involved in another fight. It was at this point that Officer Gross arrived in plain clothes and took Reformado by the shoulder from behind. Reformado said he assumed Gross was another person involved in the fight and punched him in the face.
The police report filed by Gross states that his badge was visible and that he verbally identified himself as a police officer. It states that Reformado looked at Gross’ badge before striking him.
When contacted by the Review following the incident, the Duffy’s DJ corroborated Gross’ account, stating that Reformado appeared to be out of control and possibly on drugs.
Reformado, on the other hand, said he hadn’t used any drugs or had much to drink, and denied that Gross identified himself as a police officer.
Following the incident, letters from Reformado were sent to each Forest Park commissioner as well as Police Chief James Ryan and even Senator Barack Obama informing them of Reformado’s account of what had occurred. Reformado’s mother, Anita Harmon, said she wrote the letters on her son’s behalf.
The police department is presently conducting an investigation into whether Gross used excessive force by punching and stunning Reformado.
Calderone said that the village’s investigation into the incident should be finished relatively soon, noting that he has heard that the completion has been delayed because the police department has had trouble getting in touch with Reformado.
Stevens, meanwhile, said she has had trouble getting the village to provide records of the responses they’ve received so far in their investigation.
Stevens said she had received no updates from the village regarding any charges to be filed against Johnsen. The report prepared by investigator Robert Johnson, a retired Lt. Colonel with the Illinois State Police, was released in early February.
Calderone said he expects to have that matter resolved sometime in the near future, but declined to comment further.
Harder’s termination hearing is set to resume after a two-month hiatus on Thursday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at village hall.