Peterson dropped from excessive force lawsuit

By Danya Hooker dhooker@mysuburbanlife.com

Drew Peterson has been dropped from an excessive force lawsuit against the village of Bolingbrook and three of its police officers, the law firm representing the plaintiff confirmed Tuesday.

The development means Peterson, 54, has one fewer legal problem to worry about. The 29-year veteran of the Bolingbrook police force is a suspect in his fourth wife’s Oct. 28 disappearance. Family members of Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, who died mysteriously in March 2004, petitioned the Will County court Jan. 31 to reopen her estate in preparation for filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Peterson.

The excessive force lawsuit, filed Dec. 17 by Bolingbrook resident Timothy Brownlee, 35, stems from a May 28 arrest in which Brownlee said officers harassed and assaulted him.

Brownlee’s lawyer Russell Ainsworth, with the Chicago-based civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy, told the Bolingbrook Reporter last month that Brownlee had not been able identify the officers involved in the incident but later recognized Peterson as one of them after seeing him in the news.

Village representatives have said Peterson was not on duty at the time of Brownlee’s arrest and that the incident were his thumb was allegedly broken was videotaped, clearly showing Peterson was not involved.

Both sides were expected to meet to view the videotape by the end of January. Neither side would comment on whether the viewing actually took place or if it had any bearing on the decision to drop Peterson from the lawsuit.

Brownlee was arrested at about 2 p.m. May 28 after his 72-year-old neighbor called police about a disturbance between the two. The lawsuit contends that Brownlee became concerned for his safety after an arresting officer began using racially offensive language toward Brownlee, who is black.
The original lawsuit stated two officers invasively searched Brownlee and that Peterson broke Brownlee’s thumb while handcuffing him.

The charges against Brownlee were dismissed in September, according to Ainsworth.

Bolingbrook police Cmdr. Chris Prochut has said Brownlee was never strip searched and was uncooperative during the booking process, forcing officers to restrain him. Brownlee did request medical treatment but Prochut said he has no knowledge of a medical report showing Brownlee’s thumb was broken.

Brownlee called to request an internal investigation May 30 but the investigation ended when Brownlee failed to follow-up on the complaint on his lawyer’s advice, Prochut said.

Craig Penrose, an attorney for the law firm representing the village said the rest of lawsuit is moving forward. Brownlee is suing the officers and the village on 12 counts including excessive force, assault and battery, false imprisonment and false arrest.

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