Federal lawsuit filed against former Naperville cops
A former Naperville man has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming several Naperville police officers "reached an agreement among themselves" to frame him for murder in the 1995 fire that killed his mother-in-law.
William Amor, 62, spent 22 years in prison for starting the fire that killed Marianne Miceli before DuPage County Judge Liam Brennan acquitted him during a February retrial. His new attorney, Kathleen Zellner, filed the federal suit in Chicago's U.S. District Court.
The 20-page lawsuit alleges the officers caused physical and emotional distress to Amor in the weeks leading to his coerced confession to starting the fire by dropping his cigarette on a vodka-soaked newspaper in Miceli's condo unit.
The complaint names the city of Naperville, four members of the police force at the time of the investigation and the estate of a deceased officer.
"The defendants together reached an understanding, engaged in a course of conduct, engaged in a joint action and otherwise conspired among and between themselves to maliciously prosecute (Amor) without probable cause and to intentionally inflict emotional distress," Zellner wrote in the suit. "In furtherance of the conspiracy, the defendants committed overt acts including the fabrication and unlawful coercion of (Amor's) 'confession,' and the falsification of witness statements in police reports."
City spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said Tuesday the city is aware of the lawsuit and prepared to vigorously defend it. The officers named in the suit, she said, are no longer with the department.
"The Naperville Police Department is a CALEA certified police department. Naperville police officers undergo significant ongoing training concerning investigations and appropriate interrogation techniques," LaCloche said. "We stand by our practices and investigations and will continue to implement the highest standards in all our investigations."
A private attorney listed in court records as representing the officers did not return a call or email seeking comment Tuesday.
Zellner also is representing Amor in his petition for a certificate of innocence from the state court system, which would expunge his record and entitle him to collect a monetary settlement of about $220,000 from the Illinois Court of Claims for wrongful imprisonment.
A hearing on that petition is scheduled for June 18 in DuPage.