ROCKFORD, Ill. (CN) – Police officers in Loves Park, Ill., beat a man to death in front of his home and then conspired with a county coroner to cover up the cause of death by deeming it a cocaine overdose, the man’s mother claims in Federal Court.
Jesse Hare was allegedly beaten twice by police, the first time while handcuffed outside his trailer home during an arrest on drug charges. He had to be taken to a hospital, the suit claims, but the beating was never fully investigated.
Several months later, according to Hare’s mother, Yvonne Challieh, Hare complained of chest pains, so Challieh called emergency services for him. She says that after her son rejected an ambulance, Loves Park police officers decided that Hare was “acting goofy” and beat him. Three officers hit him with a baton, used pepper spray on him, threw him to the ground, “choked him, placed their knees on his throat and chest, and continued to strike and physically assault” him, Challieh claims. Even the police sergeant took part in the beating, she says.
Officers then handcuffed and arrested her son for no reason, she says.
Hare was later pronounced dead at Rockford Memorial Hospital. The Winnebago County Coroner’s report stated that Hare “was snorting cocaine and [was] out of control” and that he had been “scooping up cocaine with his hands and shoving it up to his face,” according to the lawsuit. The autopsy report allegedly stated only that Hare died from “adverse effects of cocaine.” Neither report made any mention of his injuries from the abuse, Challieh claims.
The lawsuit alleges false arrest, excessive force, police brutality, battery and wrongful death against Loves Park; the Loves Park Police Department; Winnebago County; Officers Joshua Hecker, Terry Hayes and Jeffrey Petty; Sgt. Curtis Wilson; County Coroner Elizabeth Fiduccia; Deputy Coroner Robert Baumgartner and Dr. Mark Peters.
Challieh demands $1 million in compensatory damages. She is represented by Kevin Golden of Dudley & Lake.