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Judicial CP - August 2005
The Star, Tinley Park, Illinois, 14 August 2005
Harvey Police Department faces lawsuit over alleged beating
By Michael Hirtzer
A father who claims a Harvey detective beat his 14-year-old son with a wooden paddle filed a federal lawsuit last week against the city's police department.
The boy's father, Vernon McNeal, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois.
The lawsuit states the boy's mother dropped her son off at the city's police station in February or March of 2004. According to the lawsuit, Harvey Juvenile Detective Marcell Hartwell beat the boy "numerous times across the buttocks with a wooden paddle."
Hartwell was unavailable for comment.
Harvey police spokeswoman Sandra Alvarado declined to comment on the lawsuit.
"We haven't been served with the lawsuit," Alvarado said Friday. "As soon as we are (served), we'll be able to elaborate."
Alvarado said the city's police officers do not beat juveniles and do not keep a paddle at the department for that purpose.
The suit is seeking $30,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. Chicago-based law firm Gregory E. Kulis & Associates is representing the family.
"He had bruises and contusions as a result of the incident," assistant attorney Shehnaz Mansuri said of the boy, who was 13 years old at the time of the incident.
Mansuri said the law firm has several similar lawsuits pending against the police department.
"We probably have five or six cases where young people were brought to the Harvey police station and paddled by various officers," she said.
"Hopefully, as a result of the lawsuits we filed, that process (will stop)."
The law firm represented former Harvey deputy marshal Timothy Parker in a lawsuit filed last December against former Mayor Nickolas Graves and Sgt. Chris Suderlund.
Parker's lawsuit stated that police falsely arrested him and deprived him of legal counsel during an incident in 2002. That lawsuit was settled early this summer in Parker's favor. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
The Star, Tinley Park, Illinois, 25 August 2005
Spanking suit settled for $94,000
By Chris Hack
Two south suburban middle-school students will receive a total of more than $90,000 in the settlement of a federal lawsuit claiming they were spanked by Harvey police officers wielding a plywood paddle.
The first boy — who was 14 when he was allegedly spanked bare-bottom by an officer in the police station after being taken into custody following a fight at Gwendolyn Brooks Junior High — will have $74,000 put into a trust fund he will be able to access when he turns 18, according to court papers.
A second boy who said he was spanked will get $20,000 in his trust fund. A third boy making similar spanking claims filed a separate federal lawsuit last week.
The lawsuits stem from what attorneys claim was a pattern of corporal punishment being doled out at the Harvey Police Department in early 2004.
"I hope it doesn't happen again," Harvey Police Chief Andrew Joshua said Tuesday.
The first boy, who now lives in Dolton, never was charged with a crime in connection with the schoolyard scuffle. But he said he needed to be treated at South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest for severe bruising after the Jan. 29, 2004, paddling at the hands of officer Ramonde Williams.
A boy from South Holland later added to the lawsuit claimed that on Jan. 21, 2004, he was taken into custody for a fight at Brooks. At the police station, he allegedly was spanked by a detective while several other officers looked on.
Under the terms of the settlement, the money put into the trust funds for the two boys cannot be touched without a court order until their 18th birthdays. A city spokeswoman did not return phone calls Tuesday about other specifics of the settlement.
In court papers filed last year, city attorneys acknowledged Williams struck the Dolton boy's rump with a piece of plywood but insisted he was fully clothed and resisting arrest at the time. The city lawyers said the plywood paddle was discarded after the incident — and they convinced the federal judge handling the case to keep secret from the public an affidavit from Williams detailing the incident.
Joshua said Williams has since resigned from the department. Detective Marcell Hartwell remains the department's juvenile officer. Hartwell was accused of looking on during the spankings of the two boys and of wielding the paddle himself in the alleged spanking of the third boy. The chief could not recall if he was reprimanded after the spanking incidents, but noted "there was an internal investigation."
The new lawsuit filed last week says the boy paddled by Hartwell was dropped off at the police station by his mother for unspecified reasons in either February or March of 2004. The lawsuit demands damages of more than $45,000 and claims the spanking left the boy with "emotional anxiety, mental trauma, humiliation, fear, pain, suffering and future pain and suffering."
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