Friday, June 2, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
One man has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the village of Maywood in relation to an incident that happened last summer.
The village’s administrative hearing department, enforcement department, community development department, the Maywood police chief and two police officers (a commander and a sergeant), and a former administrative hearing officer are specifically listed as defendants in the lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, which was filed in February, the plaintiff, Patrick Swenie, claims that on August 29, 2016, he was arrested without probable cause by Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley, Commander Theodore Yancy and Sergeant Daryl Fairley.
The lawsuit states that Swenie “was lawfully located on a public sidewalk” outside of the Maywood police station, 125 S. 5th Ave., when he was approached by Talley, who requested that he provide identification. Swenie had been taking pictures of the station’s exterior.
“When Talley demanded Plaintiff’s identification a reasonable person in Plaintiff’s position would not have felt free to leave and thus he was seized,” the federal complaint states.
“Talley did not have reasonable suspicion for this seizure. When Plaintiff did not produce identification Talley told Plaintiff that taking photographs of the exterior of the Maywood Police Department was Illegal,” the complaint continues.
“Taking photographs of the exterior of the Maywood Police Department from a public sidewalk was not illegal, and was protected activity under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution [sic].”
When Swenie refused to provide Talley with his identification, the police chief, assisted by Yancy, placed him under arrest and escorted him into the police station, where Fairley confirmed Swenie’s arrest, the complaint states. Swenie eventually turned over his identification to Fairley, who served him a disorderly conduct citation.
According to Maywood ordinances, disorderly conduct entails “Making, aiding or assisting in making any improper noise, riot disturbance, breach of the peace or diversion tending to a breach of the peace.”
On January 6, Swenie appeared at an administrative hearing, where he defended himself against the allegations in the citation.
According to the complaint, “immediately before his hearing,” Fairley served him with a second disorderly conduct citation, claiming that Swenie knowingly “caused a breach of the peace by photographing officers [and] civilians going in and out of the police station.”
Swenie is seeking payment from the defendants for “punitive and exemplary damages in a sum to be ascertained,” legal fees and other payments that the court “may deem just and proper.”
When reached by phone on Friday, Swenie’s attorney, Garrett Browne, declined to comment on the specifics of the case. He did, however, indicate that the case is currently in the discovery phase, with both sides gathering evidence.
Attorneys with Maywood’s contracted law firm, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, are representing the defendants.
Contacted by phone Friday, Talley said that Swenie’s actions seemed designed to “bait us into doing something.” He said that Swenie had been standing outside of the station taking photographs of people going in and coming out of the facility.
When he asked Swenie why he was taking the photographs, Swenie didn’t say anything and was not responsive to officers’ concerns, Talley said, adding that the man’s actions were suspicious and constituted a possible threat to public safety.
Talley said that Swenie lives in Chicago and may have a history of provoking police encounters with officers from other agencies.
“Why would he come all the way from Chicago just to take pictures of the police station?” Talley said. “This was around the time of other incidents involving violence against law enforcement, such as the police shootings in Dallas [that happened on July 7, 2016].”
Talley said that he believes federal case law will find that the actions that he and his officers took were justified. VFP