The village of Brookfield’s risk management insurance agency has paid $95,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed in late 2015 by two LaGrange Park brothers against the village and four Brookfield police officers for wrongful arrest, malicious prosecution and excessive force.
The lawsuit was settled Aug. 31. The Landmark obtained a copy of the settlement agreement from the village of Brookfield via a Freedom of Information request for the documents.
Anthony and James DeSanto filed suit in U.S. District Court in 2015, two years after they were arrested outside the Cordial Inn, 9207 31st St. after police responded to a report of a brawl at the bar in December 2013.
Both men were charged with aggravated battery and resisting arrest, but the two were found not guilty after their attorney presented in court surveillance video evidence from the night of the incident.
In the lawsuit, the DeSantos were identified as friends of the bar owner and were inside the bar helping clean up after the fight when police arrived.
At the time the suit was filed, the DeSantos’ attorney, Paul D. Geiger, called the charges against his clients “absolutely an abuse of authority. They were involved in precisely nothing.”
By settling the lawsuit, Brookfield and its police officers did not admit to any wrongdoing. Rather, according to the settlement agreement, the decision to pay the $95,000 to the plaintiffs was because the village’s insurance firm, the Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency (IRMA), wanted to “expeditiously resolve disputed issues of fact and law.”
The settlement agreement also placed a gag order on the DeSantos, stating they “will not speak to any member of the media, including all newspaper personnel, radio personnel, news reporters and other persons related to the media regarding any of the allegations” in the lawsuit.
Second suit still pending
A second federal lawsuit against Brookfield police officers, which was filed in September 2014 by a man claiming that officers used excessive force in subduing him after police responded to his apartment to investigate an excessive noise complaint in September 2012.
Lee J. Knight alleged that five police officers entered his apartment without his consent, hog-tied him and used a Taser on him repeatedly while being handcuffed. The police chief at the time of the incident, Steven Stelter, called the accusations false.
The police report from the incident stated that police visited Knight’s apartment twice during the early morning hours of Sept. 30, 2012 and described Knight as out of control, blaring music, screaming obscenities and racial slurs and pounding on the door and walls of his apartment.
The two sides met for a settlement conference in June but were unable to come to an agreement, according to U.S. District Court records.
The matter is scheduled to go to trial on April 17, 2017.