3 Years in Prison on a Cop Frame, Woman Says

     CHICAGO (CN) – A woman spent three years in jail because Chicago police withheld DNA evidence and coerced a witness into testifying that a man’s suicide was a homicide, the woman claims in court.
     Sara Bridewell sued Chicago and its police Officers Kevin Eberle and Brian Forberg, in Cook County Court.
     Walter Chandler’s Ford Escape collided with Bridewell’s sister’s car in September 2006, according to the complaint.
     “Mr. Chandler was extremely intoxicated, and had a blood alcohol level approximately four times the legal limit,” the complaint states.
     “Mr. Chandler struck the parked car of plaintiff’s sister, Lisa Rhodes, and then fled the scene of the accident in his car.
     “Plaintiffs and Ms. Rhodes heard the collision of Chandler’s vehicle with Rhodes’ vehicle, and got in the car with two other individuals, Randy Manual and Anthony Watkins, to drive after Chandler and get his license plate number to call the police.
     “Chandler stopped his vehicle nearby, and plaintiff and Rhodes approached his car.
     “Rhodes approached the driver’s side and told Chandler, ‘You know you hit my car?’ three times before Chandler nodded his head.
     “Bridewell approached the passenger side of Chandler’s vehicle. When Bridewell looked into Chandler’s vehicle, she saw that Chandler was holding a gun in his hand between his legs.
     “Bridewell shouted ‘He’s got a gun!’ and she and Rhodes then ran from Chandler’s vehicle.
     “As they were running, Chandler fired a single gunshot into his head, and his head slumped onto the steering wheel of his vehicle, sounding the horn.”
     Despite eyewitness accounts corroborating this account of Chandler’s death, and physical evidence of suicide, investigating Officers Eberle and Forberg “kept plaintiff and Rhodes locked in small interrogation rooms for lengthy and brutal interrogation, during which they screamed threat and obscenities at plaintiff and Rhodes, including that they would be locked up for a long time, [and] that they would be going to prison for decades …” the complaint states.
     It continues: “Plaintiff Bridewell was confined and interrogated for a period exceeding 63 hours before she was brought before a judge.
     “Rhodes was confined and interrogated for a period exceeding 40 hours.
     “After being verbally abused, subjected to physical duress, including deprivation of food and access to a bathroom, causing Rhodes to urinate on the floor, repeated threats, including that her children would be taken away from her, and being repeatedly told that the only way she would be let go was if she said she saw Bridewell shoot Chandler, Rhodes’ will was finally overcome and she made an equivocal statement implicating Bridewell.”
     Based on Rhodes’ testimony, Bridewell was charged with murder.
     “In addition, Eberle and Forberg withheld evidence from the crime lab, including DNA samples from the subject gun. This evidence was not tested by the crime lab until prosecutors discovered defendants’ failure to have it tested some two years ago,” Bridewell says in the complaint.
     “As a result of defendants Eberle and Forberg’s knowing and intentional use of coerced false statements, their concealment of this fact from prosecutors, their deliberate failure to submit DNA evidence to the crime lab, and their refusal to cooperate with prosecutors, Bridewell was incarcerated from September 3, 2006 until July 22, 2009, when the murder charges against her were dismissed,” the complaint states.
     Bridewell seeks $3 million in punitive damages for malicious prosecution and emotional distress.
     She is represented by Kurt Feuer and Daniel Alexander.

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