A 51-year-old man who was charged in 2012 with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, filed suit in U.S. District Court on Sept. 9 claiming five Brookfield police officers entered his apartment without a warrant and used excessive force to arrest him.
Lee J. Knight seeks damages of more than $100,000 to compensate him for officers’ inflicting what he claims were “serious personal injuries” while they arrested him on Sept. 30, 2012 inside his apartment in the 4600 block of Eberly Avenue.
The case is being handled by federal Judge Harry D. Leinenweber.
Among other things, Knight claims that the officers — identified in the complaint as David Harrison, Peter Coffelt, David Kudla, Nicholas Hahn and Mark McEwan — entered his apartment by force after being told they didn’t have permission, handcuffing his hands and legs together in a “hog tied format” and then beating and using a Taser on him repeatedly while he was handcuffed.
Brookfield Police Chief Steven Stelter declined to talk in detail about the lawsuit, but defended his officers’ actions during the incident.
“His claims are false and my officers acted as they should have,” said Stelter.
Knight’s attorney, James J. Macchitelli, repeated that police used a Taser on his client while his client was “hog tied” and that while his client may have been confrontational with police, the officers’ actions were not necessary.
“That’s how people die,” Macchitelli said.
Knight’s allegations are at odds with the police account of what took place that morning, which is described in the police report submitted after the incident.
While Knight’s complaint is light on details regarding why Brookfield police showed up at his door — twice as it turned out — on the morning of Sept. 30, 2012, the police report depicts a man completely out of control.
According to the police report, a man who lived in the same building called police at 1:44 a.m., complaining that Knight was blasting music and pounding on walls and the floor of his apartment.
In a recording of the initial call to police obtained by the Landmark via a Freedom of Information request, the neighbor is clearly fed up with the noise.
“The guy on the second floor is f—–g about to get his brains beat in if someone doesn’t come here and tells him to turn that s–t down,” the caller says. “He’s banging on the floor, he’s hitting walls, he’s got his music blaring. My kids are sleeping. It’s just bulls–t.”
When police arrived, they reported that Knight was “screaming racial slurs and obscenities.” After knocking on his apartment door several times, Knight reportedly began to pound on the door from the inside while yelling obscenities at police.
Eventually, Knight agreed to turn the music down and call it a night, according to police, who left the building and went back to their squad cars. Once outside, Knight reportedly began pounding on the front windows of his apartment “laughing and yelling uncontrollably” at police, who reported “Knight had a look in his eyes as he stared out his window that was startling in nature.”
Knight finally quieted down, turned off the lights in his apartment and police left.
But at 2:16 p.m., police received another call from the neighbor, saying Knight was at it again. Police again reported that Knight was blaring music and yelling obscenities and racial slurs, claiming “The monsters are going to get me” and allegedly telling police that once they left “I’m going to kill everyone in this building.”
At that point, police reportedly told Knight several times to open his door and come out peacefully. When he refused, police said, they forced their way in. Once police were inside, Knight allegedly put up his fists as if ready to fight with police.
One officer tackled Knight, who reportedly fought with police. The report states that an officer did use a Taser on Knight twice, but that it had no effect. Eventually, and the police report is redacted here, officers were able to handcuff Knight.
During the melee, an officer requested backup units and two ambulances from the police dispatcher, who relayed that units from LaGrange, Countryside and McCook were on their way.
Paramedics took Knight to MacNeal Hospital, where police say he was treated for minor cuts and bruises. The report also states he continued to be combative and “make nonsensical statements as someone who is not in the right frame of mind.”
Back in police custody later on Sept. 30, 2012, a reportedly apologetic Knight told police he had been “heavily drinking vodka and bourbon” and that he didn’t recall making the statements police reported hearing.