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posted: 6/13/2013 4:52 PM

Aurora man wins civil rights case against cop

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A federal jury awarded an Aurora man $50,000 as part of a civil rights lawsuit against an Aurora police officer.

The jury ruled Kurt Kopek was a victim of excessive force, false arrest and malicious prosecution stemming from his 2008 arrest.

The jury's ruling allows the city to cover $35,000 of the damages awarded Kopek, but Detective Edgar Gallardo is responsible for the remaining $15,000.

"What's notable about this judgment is that the jury made sure that some of the damages are paid by Gallardo himself," said Roshna Bala Keen, Kopek's attorney.

Gallardo, a six-year veteran of the department, is still on the job, Aurora officials said. In 2009, Gallardo was honored by the department for recognizing and arresting a wanted gang member after noticing him at movie theater while Gallardo was off duty. He was nominated for Officer of the Year by the department.

"The city respects, but disagrees, with the jury's verdict and is exploring all of its options going forward," Aurora spokesman Dan Ferrelli said Thursday.

Kopek was arrested Sept. 2, 2008, near Clearwood Park on the city's far east side, according to the federal lawsuit. Kopek's arrest followed the arrest of his wife on traffic charges that were later dropped because of a record-keeping error by the Illinois Secretary of State's office, the lawsuit stated.

Kopek, who lives two blocks away from the park, was notified of his wife's arrest by a neighbor. When he approached officers, an argument ensued.

Kopek claimed in the lawsuit that he began to walk away, but was shot in the back with a Taser gun by Gallardo. Kopek claimed he was punched by the officer as well, even after he had been handcuffed and shocked again with the Taser.

The lawsuit claimed Kopek was placed in the back seat of a squad car for an hour on a 90-degree day without air conditioning or the windows rolled down.

Keen said at one point, Kopek's teenage son -- who had walked home from school -- passed the scene and saw his battered father in the back of the squad car.

Kopek was charged with four misdemeanors, but a DuPage County jury later acquitted him of all charges.

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