The civil trial in a motorist’s multi-million dollar claim that he was abused by police in 2006 has been delayed, pushing the case into September. The matter was scheduled to go before a jury on June 23, and marks the second time the court has abandoned a trial date. Originally, the case was set for a February proceeding.
According to records filed with the U.S. District Court in Chicago, Chris Smith is suing the village and one of its officers for a total of $6 million – $5 million of which is sought from the officer individually. According to Smith’s claim, he was punched by another motorist in late October of 2006 while idling at a traffic light in Forest Park. The officer who responded to the alleged battery used his Taser to deliver an electric shock to Smith’s genitals before placing him under arrest.
Smith claims the officer’s behavior was “wanton” and “malicious,” causing him pain, emotional distress and humiliation.
In a response to the suit filed with the court, the officer acknowledges using his electronic stun gun to incapacitate Smith, but said the use of force was warranted. Smith got out of the car after being instructed not to, and was behaving “aggressively and in a threatening manner,” according to the officer’s response.
The Forest Park police officer, Michael Harrison, denied any wrongdoing.
An attorney in the case said a scheduling conflict in the judge’s calendar is the reason for delaying the trial until September.
Smith’s claim against the department is one of five that continues to wind its way through the federal courts. Two of those cases could be headed toward a settlement.
Jeams Potts has accused police of physically abusing him after taking him into custody under false pretenses in October of 2005. According to his suit, Potts said he was harassed while walking near the junction of Madison Street and Desplaines Avenue, then beaten, kicked and dragged through the police station.
Officers named in that case, including Jason Keeling, the alleged instigator, have denied the accusations.
Scheduling records filed in the case indicate that settlement talks between the two sides began at least in early May. A July 14 conference is set, and attorneys have been instructed to exchange written settlement offers prior to that meeting.
Attorneys for both sides did not return a phone call seeking comment on the progress of those talks.
Clarence Davis, who is also suing for alleged mistreatment following a traffic stop in which he was shocked several times with a stun gun, may also be nearing a settlement with the village. Davis’ case was handed over to a magistrate judge at the end of May, “for the purpose of holding proceedings related to discovery supervision and settlement conference,” according to federal court records.
A defense attorney in the case did not return a phone call seeking comment. Davis’ attorney also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Davis’ arresting officer, Robert Biel, resigned from the department shortly after Davis was found not guilty of the misdemeanor charges filed in connection with the arrest. He has denied Davis’ allegations.
In their respective cases, both Davis and Potts are seeking an unspecified amount in punitive damages.