Doc Ryan’s owner Jim Shaw filed a lawsuit in Cook County Court on July 24 against the Village of Forest Park, Lt. Steve Johnsen, and Officer Michael Harrison, alleging that he was inappropriately arrested in July 2005 following a verbal altercation with Village Commissioner Patrick Doolin.
Shaw had filed a separate lawsuit against Doolin in May which charged that Shaw’s conduct when he approached Doolin after being denied a zoning variance did not warrant the charges for which Doolin had Shaw arrested. Doc Ryan’s is located at 7432 W. Madison St.
At the time, Shaw’s attorney Timothy Touhy laid the blame on Doolin, stating that the arresting officers acted on an inaccurate account given to them by Doolin. The more recent lawsuit, however, states that “Johnsen and Harrison knew that the Plaintiff did not commit the offenses charged” and that the officers “knew or [were] otherwise informed that no probable cause existed to arrest or charge [Shaw].”
On the night of the arrest, Johnsen was the watch commander on duty at the police department, while Harrison was the arresting officer. The criminal charges against Shaw were “stricken on leave,” or dismissed with the option of reinstating, in October 2005.
The village launched an investigation into the incident last year, and a private investigator hired by the village handed in a report in February charging that Johnsen hadn’t adequately investigated Doolin’s charges before making the arrest and withheld details of the arrest from Chief James Ryan. Though the investigator recommended suspension or termination, Johnsen returned to work in May after a three month paid leave.
The lawsuit outlines six charges of wrongdoing by Johnsen, including withholding statements by Doolin that indicated he had not been “placed in the immediate apprehension of a battery” by Shaw and disregarding statements by witnesses and other evidence indicating that no criminal offense had occurred. Harrison is also charged with disregarding statements by both witnesses and Doolin that indicated no crime had occurred.
The suit states that Shaw was “deprived of his liberty and his right to be free from unreasonable seizures under the state and federal constitutions,” and that he was “wrongfully prosecuted, forced to appear in court and expend monies in defending himself, and his reputation [was] impugned.”
The suit does not seek a specific dollar amount, instead asking for “compensatory and punitive damages in an amount in excess of the jurisdictional amount together with costs of the suit.”
Johnsen said he was “surprised” to hear about the recent lawsuit, but declined to offer further comment. Doolin also said he had been advised by his attorneys not to comment on the suit.
Mayor Anthony Calderone did not comment on the suit specifically but expressed his frustration with the growing number of lawsuits the village has on its hands. Sgt. Dan Harder, who the village is seeking to terminate, has also sued the village and several of its employees, alleging political retaliation.
“I’ll be so glad when all this stuff comes to some conclusion. As a mayor there’s a lot more things I’d rather be dealing with,” he said.
Touhy, Shaw’s attorney, could not be reached for comment by press time.