City Settles For $32,500 In False Arrest Case - Journal & Topics Newspapers Online: Opinion

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Off The Record City Settles For $32,500 In False Arrest Case

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Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 9:00 pm

Problems within the Des Plaines Police Dept. continue to pile up and become more expensive with the acknowledgement by the city this week that an out-of-court settlement has been reached with a local resident who claimed she was falsely arrested and mistreated by three police officers.

It took a written Freedom of Information request filed last week by the Journal & Topics Newspapers to learn that a cash settlement in the amount of $32,500 was authorized in August. That sum was paid to Stacy Sandoval after her filing of a lawsuit against the city and three officers in which she alleged that she was falsely arrested in June of 2009.

In her complaint, Sandoval says that while she was working at a Pizza Hut restaurant in Mt. Prospect on June 4, 2009, she received a telephone call from Des Plaines police officer John Bueno who said he needed to speak with her. Bueno was allegedly using Sandoval’s husband’s cell phone at the time.

The lawsuit adds that during the phone conversation, Bueno, along with fellow officers Matthew Bowler and James Lave, went to Sandoval’s workplace and said to her that she needed to sign a consent form to search her home. She had earlier been told that her husband was pulled over by police for a minor traffic violation and arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Sandoval, added the lawsuit, said she would not sign the form to have her home searched after which, she was put in handcuffs by the officers and taken to the downtown police station. Sandoval said the officers had no justification to arrest her and that while she was at the station, she was told that if she did not sign the consent form she would spend her birthday in Cook County Jail. Several hours later, Sandoval signed the form and about five hours after that was released from the police station. By then it was 2:30 a.m.

Furthermore, in her complaint, Sandoval said the officers did not possess a warrant or have probable cause or any other legal justification to place her under arrest.

In the August settlement obtained by the Journal & Topics, Sandoval agrees to no longer pursue charges against the city and officers and to have her lawsuit dismissed. And in a specific demonstration of their desire to keep the facts of the settlement quiet, the language in the agreement states that Sandoval and members of her immediate family agree to refrain from making any public disclosure---including to members of the media---the terms of the settlement.

With this latest agreement, the city’s desire to keep settlements secret--something they have held onto strongly for years---remains firmly intact despite clear evidence that such agreements, especially dealing with the often criticized Des Plaines Police Dept., need fresh public airing.

Officer Bueno early this year, was fired from the department for, so far, undisclosed public reasons. He has been accused, however, of beating up people while on duty. One of those incidences of alleged beatings is detailed in a lawsuit filed by a DuPage County man this past summer who said Bueno and fellow officer Andy Contreras beat him while he was handcuffed and being transported from Elmhurst to the Des Plaines police station.

Bueno is contesting his firing and a late November arbitrator’s hearing has been scheduled.

Numerous other lawsuits and complaints involving alleged misconduct within the Des Plaines Police Dept. have been filed. Don’t look for these lawsuits and accusations of corruption and inappropriate behavior to wither away any time soon. In fact, don’t be too surprised if more charges or lawsuits are filed.

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