Des Plaines settles lawsuit against police officers

Updated 10/30/2012 6:28 PM

Des Plaines has reached an out-of-court settlement in a 2009 lawsuit filed by a resident claiming she was falsely arrested and mistreated by three police officers, including one who the city later fired for misconduct.

The city authorized a $32,500 cash payment to Stacy Sandoval for agreeing to release Des Plaines and its officers from liability and dismiss the litigation, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request.


In the federal lawsuit, Sandoval accused police officers John Bueno, James Lave and Matthew Bowler of violating her rights by falsely arresting her on June 4, 2009, after her husband was detained on a drug-related offense.

Sandoval's attorney could not be reached for comment Tuesday. According to the settlement agreement, Sandoval is barred from disclosing the details of the deal to the public or media.

Des Plaines City Manager Mike Bartholomew deferred comment until after consulting with the city's attorneys through its risk management pool, Municipal Insurance Cooperative Association, which handled the lawsuit.

Bueno is one of the defendants in another federal lawsuit accusing him and a fellow patrol officer, Andy Contreras, of beating a DuPage County man while transporting him to the Des Plaines police station. He was fired by the city March 2.

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Charges against Contreras stemming from the same incident were dropped after he and the city reached a settlement in April. He rejoined the force in August after a four-month suspension.

In her lawsuit, Sandoval claimed police took her husband into custody after saying they found drug paraphernalia in his vehicle during a routine traffic stop. Per the complaint, Bueno then used the husband's cellphone to call Sandoval and later went to her workplace in Mount Prospect to speak with her. The officers told Sandoval that her husband had been arrested and that she had to sign a consent to search their home, the suit alleged.

When Sandoval refused, the officers handcuffed her without legal justification and took her to the Des Plaines police station against her will, according to the complaint. She claimed the officers threatened her saying, "if she did not sign the consent form, she would spend her birthday in the Cook County jail."

She eventually signed the consent form and was released from police custody at 2:30 a.m. June 5, nearly eight hours after being detained without charges, the suit alleged.


Sandoval originally sought compensatory and punitive damages for emotional distress on the counts of unreasonable seizure, false arrest and failure to intervene on the part of the officers.

In the second lawsuit involving Bueno, Sergio Toutges claims the fired officer and Contreras intimidated, threatened and beat him while he was handcuffed and in their custody. The officers were transporting Toutges from the Elmhurst police station where he had been detained Aug. 12, 2010 on a Des Plaines arrest warrant for attempting to run over an officer.

Toutges' suit also alleges that city officials knew about previous acts of physical abuse of prisoners and false reports filed by Bueno and failed to discipline him. The city of Des Plaines is a defendant in both lawsuits.

Bueno, a 10-year veteran of the Des Plaines police department, is seeking reinstatement through an arbitration hearing scheduled for Nov. 20. He also has filed a racial discrimination complaint against the city with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging a superior officer made derogatory and insensitive comments about his Hispanic heritage.

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