Cook Co. sheriff's officer sues Hanover Park

Claims removing him from meeting while wearing gun violated rights

 
 
Updated 2/8/2011 3:52 PM

Brad Sandefur should have been allowed to return to a Hanover Park village board meeting in February after officers accosted, restrained and removed him for bringing a gun, his attorney said.

Barring the Cook County sheriff's deputy sergeant from re-entering deprived him of his constitutional rights, Sandefur says in a lawsuit he's filed against the village and four of its leaders seeking punitive and compensatory damages in excess of $4.5 million.

 

"This is a man who did nothing wrong," attorney Ronald Bell said Thursday, a day after filing the federal suit. "But they ignored his rights all along and treated him like a criminal."

In addition to monetary damages, Sandefur wants a judge to order the defendants to publish a retraction of their earlier statements to the Daily Herald that police handled the situation well.

He also wants them ordered to apologize and never again restrict Sandefur or other law enforcement officers from legally carrying a weapon during village meetings.

Defendants Mayor Rod Craig, Village Manager Ron Moser, and Deputy Police Chiefs Tom Cortese and Mark Gatz declined to comment.

The incident took place Feb. 4 when Sandefur - a 21-year veteran of the Cook County Sheriff's Office - and a neighbor addressed the village board about a problem with ice buildup near their homes.

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The suit says Hanover Park officers spotted the gun holster, accosted Sandefur and physically restrained him despite his immediate attempts to identify himself as a law enforcement officer and Trustee Lori Kaiser's statement she knew him to be an officer.

Federal statute and the Cook County Sheriff's Code allow officers to carry a concealed weapon while off-duty.

Outside the chambers, the suit states Village Manager Moser told Sandefur he couldn't come back due to the disturbance he caused, and could instead return to the next meeting - without his gun. Moser said he would be arrested on charges of trespassing if he didn't leave.

The suit states that Sandefur was later told he was allowed to wear the gun at future meetings, but the ice problem was never fixed despite the mayor's assurances. Sandefur said Thursday repairs are finally underway.

Bell wrote in the lawsuit that Sandefur was deprived of constitutional rights to freely speak and assemble in a public forum, as well as protection against unreasonable search and seizure and false imprisonment.

The suit goes on to say the village, Craig and Moser failed and refused to supervise, control and discipline the deputy chiefs. The defendants' "highly offensive and embarrassing" actions put Sandefur in a false light to his family, neighbors, employer, officers and community, it states.

Sandefur suffered great mental anguish, injury to his reputation, exposure to public disgrace, economic harm, scandal and humiliation, the suit states.