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Council to vote on offer to settle lawsuit

Suit stems from 2009 incident with Dixon Police

Published: Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

DIXON – At tonight’s meeting, the City Council is expected to OK an offer to settle a federal lawsuit accusing Dixon police of using unreasonable force during a 2009 arrest of a woman and her husband.

The amount of the offer has not been released. The suit, filed in federal court because it accuses the police department of civil rights violations, seeks more than $100,000 in damages.

Commissioners met in closed session during the Nov. 19 meeting to discuss the case. Commissioners Dennis Considine, Colleen Brechon-Vancil and Jeff Kuhn have since said they will follow their attorneys’ advice and vote to allow the offer.

“Voting in favor may not be what our gut is telling us, but our attorneys, for a variety of reasons, are asking us to trust them,” Kuhn said. “They know the legal system better, and they have advised us that this is what’s best for the city of Dixon.”

Mayor Jim Burke said he will vote against the authorization.

“My feeling about it is that I read all the documents over, all the reports, several reports from different police officers, everything I can get my hands on, and there was no wrongdoing, as far as I can tell.”

Commissioner David Blackburn did not return a call Friday afternoon.

Chicago attorney Mark Shure filed the five-count suit in April 2011 on behalf of Karen Beauchamp, 47. It names the city, Police Chief Danny Langloss, Detective Nick Albert, and Sgt. Troy Morse as defendants.

According to the complaint:

Police arrived at Beauchamp’s home on May 4, 2009, to arrest her husband, Billie, 46, on an outstanding warrant. He handed his truck keys to her and as she turned to go back into the house, Albert told her she was under arrest, rushed up behind her, grabbed her left arm and pulled it forcefully backward, causing her to fall off the porch and land on her right elbow and tailbone. 

She had had rotator cuff surgery on her right shoulder 6 weeks earlier. 

Morse handcuffed her and shoved her from behind, causing her to fall forward into the living room in a complete somersault. 

Her son was in the room when the incident happened. She then was taken to the police department and charged with resisting or obstructing a police officer, a misdemeanor.

She later had to have a second surgery on her right rotator cuff. After the surgery, prosecutors upped the charge to a felony aggravated battery, according to the complaint.

In January 2011, she was found guilty of obstructing a service of process, a misdemeanor, during a stipulated bench trial; she was given community service and 18 months of court supervision. 

In court documents, the defendants say:

Albert ordered Beauchamp “more than once” to drop the keys, which she refused to do, before telling her she was under arrest.

Inside the house, an officer allowed Beauchamp to turn off her coffee maker, but she continued to “mess around” and was told several times to sit down.

Both officers “felt that her moving around freely in the kitchen represented a loss of control of the situation and potential threat to officer safety,” the documents said.

Stephen Balogh, who is representing the city, said he could not comment on the pending case. Shure could not be reached for comment.

Langloss said his department conducted a comprehensive internal investigation.

“We found no wrongdoing, no violations of the law or department policy,” Langloss said. “If the case goes to trial, I’m confident we will win.”

Also tonight, the council will vote whether to approve special-use permits for Lee County Animal Control Facility at 928 E. River Road, a recycling center at 629 Palmyra Road and an exercise center at 141 North Court. The animal control facility was not recommended by the Plan Commission.

Members also will discuss the 2012-2013 tax levy.

To attend

The Dixon City Council meets at 6:30 tonight in council chambers at City Hall, 121 W. Second St.

Agendas and minutes are available at www.discoverdixon.org under "Citizens Information Center," or call City Hall, 815-288-1485.

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