Sheriff denies lawsuit’s claims of nude pics
January 1, 2011 8:42PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
The Cook County sheriff’s department denies allegations made in a lawsuit filed Thursday that claim officers removed the clothes of a woman killed in a 2009 crash and took nude photos of her on the side of the road.
Jessica Mejia, 20, of New Lenox, was killed in a Dec. 31, 2009, crash along 147th Street near Oak Park Avenue in unincorporated Cook County when a sport utility vehicle driven by her former boyfriend went out of control, hit a pole and rolled over into a ditch.
Sheriff’s police officers responding to the early morning crash removed Mejia’s clothing at the scene and took multiple nude photographs of her body, according to a lawsuit filed by Mejia’s family Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court.
“From the moment our officers arrived upon the scene of this horrific crash one year ago, we have worked hard to provide justice to the family of the victim. While we’ve remained in contact with them, we’ve never before heard of the bizarre scenario this lawsuit describes,” Cook County sheriff’s department spokesman Steve Patterson said in a statement issued in response to the lawsuit.
“There were multiple independent witnesses on the scene that night and crime scene photographs taken which would have prevented the scenario described from happening. We’re sorry for the family’s loss,” he said.
The lawsuit claims police acted without medical justification in view of passers-by and onlookers and did not follow their guidelines or those of the county medical examiner’s office.
Police officers “failed to treat decedent with the dignity and the respect due her by removing her clothes, by photographing her nude body in various positions, none of which were required by protocol,” according to the lawsuit, which seeks more than $200,000 for “severe and extreme distress.”
A criminal case in the matter still is pending. The driver of the SUV, Nicholas Sord, 23, of Orland Park, allegedly had a blood-alcohol content nearly three times the legal limit and is due in court Jan. 20 at the Markham courthouse on charges of aggravated drunken driving and reckless homicide, both felonies.