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Police hit with another federal lawsuit

Man alleges that officers used excessive force, denied him medical treatment

June 12th, 2018 1:26 PM

By Nona Tepper

A man has filed a federal lawsuit against three local police officers and the village of Forest Park, alleging officers used excessive force and denied him medical treatment after arresting him for armed robbery in 2016. It is the fifth such lawsuit currently pending against the village and police. 

Plaintiff Eddie Harkins, who originally filed his lawsuit against Officer John Reilly from a southern Illinois prison last year, amended his complaint on May 31 in U.S. District Court, adding additional defendants, including Detective Robert Bryant, Detective Jarlath Heveran and the village of Forest Park. 

Harkins is now represented by attorney David Inlander, of the Chicago-based Fischel & Kahn firm, and is seeking a jury trial. 

Police responded to a call of an armed robbery about 5:51 p.m. at Dunkin Donuts, 7660 Madison St., on Sept. 12, 2016, according to a Forest Park police report filed at that time. 

Officers found a Nissan fleeing northbound on Madison Street, and approached the car head-on. The car turned in the Wendy's parking lot, according to the report, and stopped when police crashed into car, which spun out. 

Harkins reportedly ran out of the passenger rear door, but police caught him front of the Parky's Hot Dogs, 329 Harlem Ave. When officers searched Harkins, they reported finding cash and a spring, which officers identified as part of a semi-automatic handgun. 

Officers also found a black semi-automatic handgun in the vehicle where Harkins had been sitting, according to the report. He was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 18 years in the Pinckneyville Correctional Center, according to court records. 

In the lawsuit, Harkins alleges that when Reilly arrested him, he handcuffed him behind his back and did not secure the cuffs correctly, causing the cuffs to lock down on his wrist. Harkins told Reilly multiple times that the cuff was locked improperly, and that he could not feel his wrist, according to the complaint. 

Reilly responded by laughing, transporting Harkins to the Forest Park police department and placing him in a holding cell without loosening or removing the cuffs for three hours, despite Harkins screaming for help, the lawsuit said. 

When Detectives Bryant and Heveran interviewed Harkins about the incident at 9:40 that night, Harkins told detectives at least five times his wrist was in pain, his hand was numb and that he believed Reilly had broken his wrist, according to the complaint. 

He alleges detectives acted "intentionally, and with reckless indifference" to Harkins' constitutional rights by failing to properly arrange medical care. 

"Only when Officer Reilly's supervisor came into the police station were Mr. Harkins' handcuffs removed," according to the lawsuit.  

Eventually, Harkins was transported to Rush Oak Park Hospital for treatment, the lawsuit said. He still suffers from permanent pain, numbness and weakness on his right hand, which is his dominant hand, according to the complaint. In his original complaint, filed in October 2017, Harkins claims he is taking a steroid, opioid and anti-inflammatory drug for treatment.  

"I am going through a long painful process of trying to process the maximum damage to my wrist and nerves in my hand," Harkins wrote from the Pinckneyville Correctional Center.

Harkins seeks compensatory damages, plus the cost of the action and attorneys' fees from the three officers, and compensatory damages from the village. 

In a January response to Harkins' original suit, attorney Gail L. Reich, of O'Halloran Kosoff Geitner & Cook, argued that Reilly is entitled to immunity because the alleged acts occurred while he was performing is official duties, he didn't know they were unconstitutional and he did not clearly violate the Harkins' rights at the time. 

"In the event that any action of defendant Reilly deprived plaintiff of his constitutionally protected rights, which Reilly denies, then Reilly maintains that his actions were done in good faith and with the reasonable belief that such actions were lawful and constitutional," Reich writes. 

Deputy Police Chief Michael Keating declined to comment on the pending suit. 

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com