Three detained in Gliniewicz probe file civil rights suit
Three Lake County men are suing Fox Lake, three other North suburbs and several unnamed law enforcement officers, alleging they were unconstitutionally detained as potential murder suspects in the hours after police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz's 2015 suicide.
The federal civil rights lawsuit alleges investigators suspected from the onset Gliniewicz's fatal shooting may not have been the line-of-duty killing it was set up to appear.
"In spite of such knowledge, the Fox Lake Police Department continued to perpetuate the narrative that Gliniewicz's death was a homicide, and continued to participate extensively in, and detain innocent citizens pursuant to, an investigation that they knew or had reason to know was pure fiction," the suit states.
Fox Lake Village Administrator Anne Marrin and Mayor Donny Schmit could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Among those detained in the investigation's early hours were the suit's plaintiffs, Raymond Willoughby, Damien Ward and Dan Cooper. They're seeking undisclosed compensatory and punitive damages from Fox Lake, as well as co-defendants Round Lake, Round Lake Beach and McHenry, and the unnamed officers.
They were among the dozens of police who swarmed the Fox Lake area Sept. 1, 2015, after Gliniewicz was found dead in a wooded area from a gunshot wound to his chest. Shortly before the fatal shooting, Gliniewicz radioed dispatchers to report he was following three suspicious individuals.
A monthslong investigation later revealed Gliniewicz had shot himself and made it appear he was murdered, in hopes his death would prevent disclosure of his thefts from a police youth program. Until then, however, police treated his death as a homicide and questioned several potential suspects, especially in the hours and days immediately after the killing.
The suit alleges police detained those people illegally and without legally required probable cause. It also states Gliniewicz's death occurred in the midst of an internal investigation of police misconduct in Fox Lake, which should have given investigators evidence "that clearly pointed to Gliniewicz's death as a suicide."
Plaintiffs' attorney Gregory E. Kulis is asking a federal judge to certify the litigation as a class-action lawsuit, allowing others detained during the investigation to sign on as plaintiffs.
"I feel bad for these people and I feel bad for the community," Kulis said Thursday. "It was a bad situation made worse because of the direction Fox Lake took it."