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updated: 7/18/2012 4:11 PM

Correctional officer's suit against Hanover Park dismissed

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A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a Cook County correctional officer who was removed from a Hanover Park village board meeting for being armed.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge James Holderman ruled that Brad Sandefur's rights weren't violated at the February 2010 meeting and sided with the village, mayor, former village manager and several police officers, all of whom were named defendants.

Sandefur couldn't be reached for comment.

The confrontation began when Sandefur, a Hanover Park resident and sergeant with the Cook County Sheriff's Office, began addressing the board with a neighbor about an ice buildup on their street.

Court documents state that former Village Manager Ron Moser and others in attendance noticed a gun on Sandefur as he was speaking. Officers secured his arms and told him to step away from the podium and come with them.

Though Sandefur was legally permitted to carry his weapon concealed while off-duty, the defendants didn't know he was a law enforcement officer at the time.

Outside the board chambers, officers held Sandefur face-first against the wall for two to four minutes, searched him, examined his credentials and removed his weapon, Holderman's ruling states.

Calling Sandefur "a bit loud" and "agitated," Moser decided not to allow him back into the meeting. Another officer said he'd be arrested for trespassing if he didn't leave. Sandefur also was told he could attend the next board meeting two weeks later.

In Sandefur's complaint, he claimed the defendants accosted him and acted recklessly and with malicious intent to cause him great personal and economic harm. He said his right to free speech was violated and he was subject to unreasonable search and seizure.

However, Holderman said it is well-established that a local government has a significant interest in maintaining both order and public safety at meetings. He said the defendants had a reasonable response to the situation, both during the meeting and after Sandefur was removed.

"Allowing Sandefur to return to the meeting with his weapon still in his possession at that point could have caused those present some concern for their own safety, thus potentially leading to further disruption of the meeting," Holderman wrote.

Sandefur's argument that by not being allowed back in the meeting implied that he did something wrong is mere speculation, the judge added.

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