CHICAGO (CN) – An elderly Illinois woman claims she suffered a heart attack while being interrogated by Chicago police for several hours, despite the fact that she was not suspected of any crime.
Charlotte Brent-Bell, 68, sued the city of Chicago and two police officers, Joseph Struck and Pamela Childs Laughlin, in Chicago federal court on Friday, claiming an unlawful interrogation caused her to be hospitalized.
On Aug. 15, 2016, Brent-Bell says she was taken from her home on the South Side of Chicago without any explanation from police and was detained at the police station, where Struck and Laughlin interrogated her for more than six hours.
Once she arrived at the police station, Brent-Bell alleges she was placed in an interrogation room and her cellphone and medications, which were inside her purse, were confiscated without her permission.
Struck and Laughlin illegally searched her cellphone and afterwards asked her to sign a form giving them permission to search it, which she refused to do, according to the complaint.
“At no time did defendants have any reason to suspect Mrs. Brent-Bell of any crime,” the lawsuit states. “Indeed, defendants all told Mrs. Brent-Bell that she was not suspected of any crime.”
Brent-Bell claims she was denied access to her medication and a lawyer while she was detained.
“Defendants never ceased their questioning in response to Mrs. Brent-Bell’s requests for an attorney,” the complaint states. “Defendants never read Mrs. Brent-Bell her Miranda rights. At no point did Mrs. Brent-Bell agree to speak with defendants. On the contrary, she repeatedly invoked her right to remain silent. Defendants disregarded Mrs. Brent-Bell’s invocation of her right to remain silent, and they continued with their questioning.”
Throughout the day, Brent-Bell began to feel progressively ill, with symptoms of dizziness, nausea, and chest pain, she claims.
“As a result of defendants’ unlawful detention and interrogation, Mrs. Brent-Bell blacked out and became unresponsive,” the complaint states. “She had suffered a heart attack.”
According to the complaint, Brent-Bell was rushed to the hospital, where she stayed for four days after having surgery. She says her health problems continue to this day.
She also claims she was never charged or suspected of any crime.
“The City of Chicago had notice of a widespread practice and custom by Chicago Police Officers under which individuals not reasonably suspected of any criminal activity, such as Mrs. Brent-Bell, were routinely stopped, seized, arrested, detained, questioned, and/or interrogated against their will,” the lawsuit states.
Brent-Bell claims these practices were allowed to flourish because leaders, supervisors and policymakers in Chicago "turned a blind eye to the very type of misconduct" she describes in her complaint.
The Chicago Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.
Brent-Bell seeks compensatory and punitive damages for claims of unlawful arrest and detention, unlawful search, denial of medical care and the deprivation of her constitutional rights. She is represented by Aisha N. Davis with Loevy & Loevy in Chicago.
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