Mundelein police burned girl's wrist using saw to remove a handcuff, lawsuit alleges

  • According to a lawsuit, two Mundelein police officers burned a girl's arm while using a power saw to remove a malfunctioning handcuff.

      According to a lawsuit, two Mundelein police officers burned a girl's arm while using a power saw to remove a malfunctioning handcuff. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/22/2020 4:19 PM

Mundelein police officers burned a local teenager's wrist last year when they used a power saw to remove a malfunctioning handcuff, a federal lawsuit alleges.

The case was filed May 14 by Mundelein resident Emily Hitzke on behalf of her daughter, Ava, who was 16 at the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

According to the complaint, Ava was arrested in June 2019 on a warrant for missing a juvenile court appearance stemming from a misdemeanor battery charge. Officers handcuffed Ava and took her to the police station. When the officers went to remove the cuffs, the left cuff jammed and wouldn't open, the suit reads.

Police and firefighters removed the cuff with a power saw, the lawsuit states. Friction from the cutting heated the cuff, causing "significant and severe burns" on the girl's wrist, the lawsuit states.

Mundelein Village Administrator John Lobaito said officials haven't yet been served with the suit. He declined to comment further, citing a policy regarding pending litigation.

After removing the handcuff, police took Ava to the Lake County juvenile justice center near Vernon Hills, where she was held overnight, said the Hitzkes' attorney, Jeffrey Thut.

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Some time after being released, Ava's injury was treated at Northwestern Medicine Emergency Center in Grayslake, Thut said.

Ava "experienced extreme and severe physical and emotional pain and suffering" and permanent scarring, the lawsuit states.

The officers should have known the saw would heat the handcuff, and they failed to protect her wrist from the heat, the complaint states. The ordeal also violated Ava's civil rights, Thut said.

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