Two brothers from LaGrange Park have sued the village of Brookfield, four Brookfield police officers and a LaGrange Park police officer in U.S. District Court, alleging that they were wrongly arrested, maliciously prosecuted and that officers used excessive force after responding to an incident at a Brookfield tavern in late 2013.
Anthony and James DeSanto seek unspecified monetary damages as well as attorneys’ fees and court costs in their eight-count lawsuit, which names Brookfield officers Raymond Paton, David Harrison, Daniel Flores and Andrew Gagner and LaGrange Park Officer Jennifer Wilk as defendants. The lawsuit was filed Dec. 3.
Brookfield police on Dec. 15, 2013 arrested both DeSanto brothers outside the Cordial Inn, 9207 31st St. after responding to a 911 call of a brawl at the tavern.
The police report issued by the police department in the aftermath of the incident indicated that officers from Brookfield, LaGrange Park, LaGrange, McCook, Lyons, North Riverside and Riverside responded to the scene and that “multiple large groups [were] yelling and screaming back and forth around the parking lot,” that “tables and chairs [were] overturned and scattered throughout the entirety of the bar” and that “beer bottles and glass were covering the floors.”
The DeSantos, who in the lawsuit are identified as friends of the bar owner, were charged with aggravated battery and resisting arrest. A third man, who is not a party to the lawsuit, was charged with criminal trespassing.
In court, where defense attorneys presented video evidence from the night of the incident, both James and Anthony DeSanto were found not guilty of the charges against them.
“The whole thing was absolutely an abuse of authority,” said Paul D. Geiger, an attorney representing the DeSantos. “They were involved in precisely nothing.”
According to Geiger, neither of his clients was involved in the brawl inside the bar and were there helping the owner clean up when police arrived.
Brookfield Police Chief James Episcopo declined to make a statement about the case.
“We don’t comment on pending litigation,” Episcopo said. “It’s in the hands of the attorneys.”
According to the lawsuit, multiple police officers knocked James DeSanto to the ground and that his brother, Anthony, “witnessing James was being assaulted by multiple officers … attempted to go towards James to help him.”
At that point, according to the lawsuit, Officer Paton grabbed Anthony DeSanto from behind and put him in a chokehold while Flores, Gagner and Harrison tackled him. James DeSanto also alleges that Paton slammed him face-first into the pavement while handcuffed.
The two brothers also allege that Paton “pressured Wilk into signing a false complaint against James for aggravated battery to a police officer” and told her “to change her police report in order to ensure that James was charged [with] a felony.”
It’s the second federal lawsuit Brookfield police have been served with in the past two years, alleging excessive force.
In September 2014, a Brookfield man sued the village and five police officers, including Harrison, claiming they hog-tied him and used a Taser on him repeatedly while he was handcuffed in a 2012 incident at an apartment on the village’s south end.
The plaintiff in that case is seeking more than $100,000 in damages. At the time the lawsuit was filed, then-Police Chief Steven Stelter called the man’s claims “false.”
That case is still pending in U.S. District Court.