Orland Hills police chief reinstated as defendant in federal lawsuit
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org March 11, 2013 3:44PM
Updated: March 11, 2013 7:54PM
Orland Hills Police Chief Thomas Scully is once again a defendant in a federal lawsuit, after the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago on Monday reversed a prior federal court decision that removed him from the case.
Former part-time officer David Kristofek filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against Scully and the village in May 2011 after he was fired.
The lawsuit claimed Scully fired Kristofek after Kristofek spoke to other officers, an attorney, and the FBI about being told to release a man who was driving without insurance because of the driver’s political connections in November 2010, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleged three violations of the Illinois Whistleblower Act, retaliatory discharge, and First Amendment violations. The lawsuit was transferred to the U.S. District Court in Chicago, and federal Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan dismissed the claims of retaliatory discharge in May 2012 and the First Amendment claims in November 2012.
Since the First Amendment claims that were tossed out were the only meriting federal jurisdiction, Der-Yeghiayan sent the case back down to the Cook County Circuit Court, where it is pending.
Kristofek appealed the dismissal of the First Amendment claims, the case was argued in January, and the U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated the First Amendment claims on Monday.
Jerry Marconi, Kristofek’s attorney, said the federal court likely will take the case back if Kristofek pursues.
Marconi said the reinstated First Amendment claim is what allows the lawsuit to name Scully as a defendant. Individuals cannot be named as defendants under the Illinois Whistleblower Act charges.
Marconi said the First Amendment claims also allow Kristofek to seek the repayment of attorney fees from Orland Hills if he wins.
Scully’s attorney, Patrick Ruberry, declined to comment Monday.
According to the lawsuit, the incident started when Kristofek pulled over a car while on routine patrol in November 2010. The car’s registration was suspended and the driver was unable to provide proof of insurance so Kristofek wrote him two traffic tickets, arrested him, and had his car towed.
During the arrest, the driver told police his mother was an elected official in a nearby town and asked to be released, according to the lawsuit. The driver’s girlfriend called the man’s mom on her cell phone and put her in touch with Kristofek.
She asked Kristofek not to arrest her son, but he told her he had to, the lawsuit states.
When he got back to the station, Kristofek began filling out the arrest paperwork and entering the driver’s booking information when other police officers told him to stop what he was doing, delete the information from the computer, and hand over the paperwork to another officer, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims Kristofek confronted a deputy chief about the arrest, and the superior swore at him and asked if he understood what he was told. A couple of days later, Kristofek again saw the deputy chief, who told him he made a “good arrest” but that the driver’s release from custody was “above you and I,” according to the lawsuit.
In April 2011, Kristofek received online training and learned that police can face criminal charges if they let arrested people go to avoid prosecution, according to the lawsuit. Facing concerns of criminal liability, Kristofek talked to other officers involved in the arrest of the driver, as well as an attorney and the FBI.
Later that month, Kristofek spoke with Scully, who said he no longer trusted him for speaking to others about the circumstances of the arrest, according to the lawsuit. After Kristofek refused an offer to resign, Scully fired him, the lawsuit said.