What at one time appeared to be a tragic case of a police officer in Fox Lake being killed in the line of duty has in recent months revealed itself to be a tangled web of alleged illegal conduct on the part of a slain officer who staged his death. And now two men who were initially implicated in the police officer’s death are pursuing a lawsuit against the Fox Lake Police Department for violating their civil rights.
A Fallen Police Officer and a Fallen Reputation
By now, many in the Chicago area are familiar with the details of the Fox Lake police officer’s death, recounted in this Chicago Tribune article. On September 1, 2015, the officer radioed dispatch that he was pursuing three suspects on foot. A short time later, he was found dead in a remote area, shot by his own service weapon. Law enforcement officers swarmed Fox Lake looking for three suspects described by the police officer.
The only problem is that the three suspects never existed. Investigators now say that the police officer committed suicide and made it look like he was killed in the line of duty as he feared that an embezzlement scheme he had been working for several years was about to be uncovered.
In their lawsuit, the two men allege numerous violations of their civil rights. They state that police detained them for hours soon after the officer’s death and would not allow them to leave though they were cooperative and never charged with any crime. Even after the men were released, the next day police allegedly raided their homes with a SWAT helicopter.
After that, police continued to return, yet reportedly never showed the men warrants. The men also claim that in the days following the officer’s death, other police officers cornered them and demanded that they provide DNA. Worst of all, the men claim that all of this happened despite the fact that the police had reasonable suspicion that the death of the officer was in fact a suicide.
These men have only recently filed their lawsuit, so it’s unknown which of their claims will be substantiated, but their allegations illustrate several classic civil rights violations on the part of law enforcement.
While the police have authority to investigate alleged crimes, there are still procedures they must follow. Police officers cannot detain individuals for hours on end without probable cause, and almost always need a warrant to search a home. And police cannot demand DNA from innocent people under threat of further harassment. Any activity like this on the part of law enforcement is grounds for a civil rights lawsuit.
Chicago Civil Rights Lawyer
Police have the responsibility to enforce the law. They are not above it and cannot violate the rights of others in the course of an investigation, but if you believe that the police in Illinois have violated your civil rights, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, contact Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation.