Ex-Villa Park cop wants job back
A former Villa Park cop who was accused of body-slamming a teen girl during an arrest is suing to get his job back.
Daniel Messina claims village officials forced his resignation based on false allegations and then defamed him online.
The 28-year-old Lombard man filed a lawsuit in federal court late last week seeking reinstatement and wages lost since his dismissal in January 2012.
Messina had been a probationary police officer for about a year when he was accused of excessive force against a 17-year-old suspect, according to his attorney, Josh Friedman.
Friedman said the village gave his client no choice but to step down without a formal hearing where he would have defended himself.
"He was blindsided," Friedman said. "His whole life, all he wanted to do was be a police officer. And from everything he had heard, he was doing a wonderful job."
Federal court records show Messina and the village were sued by the family of a 17-year-old Villa Park girl who alleged he threw her off a porch and "body-slammed" her during a December 2011 arrest. The minor — suspected in a retail theft — was released without charges, and the lawsuit was settled in July for $76,000.
Friedman described the excessive force complaint as "groundless" and said it was the "village's decision to settle the case — not Mr. Messina's."
Messina also claims Villa Park trustees John Davis and Robert Taglia posted defamatory information about him on a community blog after his dismissal. In one instance, the lawsuit alleges, Taglia called Messina a "nut job" and blamed his hiring on former police Chief John Heidelmeier, who parted ways with the village last January after less than two years on the job.
Davis, Village Manager Richard Keehner and police Chief Robert Pavelchik all declined to comment Tuesday because the lawsuit is pending. Taglia couldn't immediately be reached.
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