CHICAGO (CN) - Cops in suburban Chicago trashed a couple's home and stole computers, TVs, their $1,500 tax refund - even their children's video games, after arresting the innocent couple at gunpoint, they claim in court.
Brandy Allen and Nicholas Timmons sued Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group (MEG), Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group Officer Donald Florance, and "unknown police officers" in Federal Court.
Lake County, north of Cook County along Lake Michigan, is predominantly white, and significantly wealthier than other Illinois counties. Its seat is Waukegan.
Allen and Timmons claim the cops savaged them this summer after they left their four children at home and went grocery shopping.
"Soon after leaving, plaintiffs were pulled over. Four defendant officers, clad in fatigues and bulletproof vests, jumped out of an unmarked SUV. They were armed with assault rifles. At least two of the defendants pointed their assault rifles at plaintiffs, ordering them out of their van," the complaint states.
"Mr. Timmons asked why the officers were doing this. One of the defendants pushed Mr. Timmons against his van and said words to the effect of: 'You know what it is for mother fucker.'
"The defendant handcuffed and searched Mr. Timmons. He repeatedly demanded that Mr. Timmons tell him where drugs and guns were, and that he would make things easier on Mr. Timmons if he gave the officer this information. Mr. Timmons insisted that he had no information about guns or drugs."
After ripping apart the couples' van, the police took Allen and Timmons to separate interrogation rooms at the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group. Allen claims she was repeatedly asked if she had seen Timmons with guns or drugs, and an officer threatened to take her children away if she did not offer any information.
Timmons also was interrogated about drugs, about which he knew nothing, and said so, he claims. During his interrogation, he says, the police told him they found nothing in searching his home.
"After a number of hours, plaintiffs were released. They were not charged with any crime," the complaint states.
"When plaintiffs returned home, they discovered their home ransacked and their valuable possessions gone.
"The stolen valuables included flat-screen televisions, laptop computers, computer memory, a small amount of cash, their children's video game consoles and games, plaintiffs' identification cards, and three blank money orders totaling $1,500. These money orders were Ms. Allen's proceeds from her tax refund.
"Every room in the apartment had been upended, including the children's rooms, and furniture was ruined. The front door frame was broken and the apartment could not be secured.
"Ms. Allen called the Lake County MEG and asked that they return her property. The defendant to whom she spoke denied that MEG had taken any of her property, telling her that her property should all be at her home.
"Yet Ms. Allen soon confirmed that Lake County MEG had in fact cashed her $1,500 in money orders.
"Ms. Allen called the defendant back and told him about her proof that his agency had taken and cashed her money orders. This time, the defendant told Ms. Allen that MEG would not return her money unless she hired a lawyer and proved that it was not drug money. Yet neither Ms. Allen nor Mr. Timmons had been charged with any crime, including any drug crime, by MEG."
As a result of the search, the couple's landlord gave them 5 days to vacate, and would not return their security deposit, according to the lawsuit.
Allen says she lost her job as a nursing assistant, because she did not report to work for two days after the arrest, afraid the police would return.
The family was "forced to live in a motel, where they struggled to pay the hundreds of dollars of weekly rent. They were forced to turn to charities for aid, including for food. Mr. Timmons' young son lived at a relative's house because of the lack of place in the motel room.
"Plaintiffs and their family lived together in the single motel room for three months."
They seek damages for illegal search and seizure, conversion, violation of due process, failure to intervene, conspiracy, assault and false arrest.
They are represented by Samantha Liskow with Loevy & Loevy.
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