By Bob Uphues
As people across the nation and globe protest in the streets for greater police accountability and an end to police brutality, the village of Brookfield is still in the midst of fighting a federal lawsuit brought in 2018 by a retired CTA bus driver accusing eight police officers of excessive force, false arrest and malicious prosecution in connection with two separate incidents in 2016 and 2017.
The civil case seeking unspecified monetary damages is before Judge Marvin E. Aspen in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The case is scheduled for a status hearing on July 16.
Aspen on June 6 dismissed malicious prosecution charges in response to the defendants' earlier motion for summary judgment. He also dismissed excessive force charges against two of the police officers, Mark McEwan and Daniel Flores, involved in the May 2017 arrest of Rogelio Valdez, who is in his 60s.
But Aspen wrote he would not dismiss the charges against the other defendants in the case: police officers Andrew Lowry, Rafael Alvarado, Nicholas Hahn, Anthony Zeman and Raymond Paton. Alvarado was the only officer involved in both incidents.
Brookfield police arrested Valdez twice, once in August 2016 and again in May 2017, even though he wasn't the reason why they went to his apartment on either occasion. On the earlier occasion, Valdez had called police to have them remove his adult daughter from his home because she was intoxicated and had assaulted him.
During that incident Valdez was outside his residence in a stairwell with Lowry. Police reports from that incident state that Valdez was arrested for "hitting a police officer."
Valdez alleges that he was demonstrating to police how his daughter had pushed him prior to officers arriving. But police handcuffed him and hustled him down the stairs of the building. Both Valdez and Lowry fell, with Lowry breaking an ankle and Valdez breaking a big toe.
Police said Valdez was resisting arrest, while Valdez said he was "rushed down the stairs like there was a fire."
In May 2017, police went to Valdez's residence to arrest his daughters. According to Valdez, police said they had a warrant but wouldn't produce it. Police claim they never said they had a warrant.
Police charged Valdez with resisting arrest and battery to a police officer, but Valdez claimed Alvarado delivered two knee strikes to Valdez after observing there was a pocketknife in Valdez's back pocket.
According to court documents, a circuit court judge dismissed all charges against Valdez in May 2018.
In his order on the defendants' motion for summary judgment, Aspen wrote that he was not dismissing the excessive charges against the other officers because there was some dispute as to exactly who might have been responsible for using that force and because the force used by the officers could be construed by a jury as excessive.
Writing about the August 2016 incident, Aspen wrote, "Here, it is not clear the defendants had probable cause to arrest Valdez of any crime, much less the serious crime of resisting arrest" (his emphasis).
Valdez has demanded a jury trial.