A man claims Dupo police repeatedly arrested him without probable cause and searched his property without proper authority to do so.
Gregory Taylor filed a lawsuit April 11 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against the village of Dupo and police officers Jeremy Zimmer, Kevin Smith, Daniel Smith and Ryan Corbin.
In his complaint, Taylor alleges Smith wrongfully arrested him on July 21, 2010, for trespassing at 101 McClure Ave. in Dupo. During the arrest, Smith ordered Taylor’s car towed, according to the complaint. Taylor claims he lived at and owned the property and should never have been detained or lost his vehicle.
Again, on Aug. 22, 2010, Taylor was arrested by Dupo officer Ryan Corbin for trespassing at the same property, according to the complaint.
“That said ordinance violation was without probable cause and without legal justification in that Plaintiff resided at said residence, Officer Kevin Smith had no right to tell Plaintiff to stay away from said residence,” the suit states.
On Feb. 11, 2011, Taylor and his girlfriend had a dispute. He left the property and went to his friend, Bruce Johnson’s, home, the complaint says. While Taylor was visiting Johnson, Dupo officer Jeremy Zimmer arrived and arrested Taylor, charging him with domestic battery.
After the arrest, Taylor claims he spent 30 days in jail. Still, he again was arrested by Zimmer on May 21, 2011, after he was again accused of participating in a domestic dispute, according to the complaint.
The second arrest was not justified because Taylor’s girlfriend had only asked Taylor to leave the premises; she did not wish to press charges against him, the suit states.
“Officer Zimmer indicated that he was arresting Plaintiff and did arrest Plaintiff and stated that Plaintiff was going to jail because he had enough trouble with him, or words to that effect,” the complaint says.
During the arrest, Zimmer told Taylor’s girlfriend that he was a sex offender and that there were warrants out for his arrest, which were false statements, according to the complaint. Zimmer also drove to Taylor’s home at 1624 N. Main St. in Dupo and entered the residence without permission. He emerged with two bags — a tool bag and a bag of books, the suit states.
Following the incident, Zimmer dropped Taylor off in the middle of East St. Louis in an allegedly dangerous area known as the Golden Garden. Zimmer ordered Taylor to never set foot in Dupo again, the complaint says.
The following day, Dupo officers arrived at Taylor’s home, ordering him to clean his yard, he claims. As Taylor began to straighten up, officers blocked his driveway and entered his property without permission, according to the complaint. They requested his permission to search his home, the suit states.
Although Taylor refused to grant access, Zimmer entered the home, saying that because Taylor was a felon, the officers did not need a search warrant, the complaint says. The police then knocked down a door, searched and ransacked the home, Taylor claims.
“The officers falsely indicated that they found in plain view a .22 rifle and a handgun and bullets when in fact those items were not Plaintiff’s and they were not in plain view,” the suit states. “That the police officers wrongfully searched the said home and seized said items and further seized other items indicating to Plaintiff that they were stolen items, said items being such things as guitars, electronic play games, tools…enough items to fill up both trunks of the squad cars.”
Taylor was again arrested and placed in jail. He was later released, but charged with one count of possessing drug paraphernalia, the complaint says.
After his release, Taylor attempted to return to his job as a newspaper deliveryman, but was repeatedly pulled over by Dupo police, according to the complaint.
During one of these stops, Taylor was arrested by Corbin for unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon, the suit states. Taylor was then transported to the Dupo Police Station and from there to the St. Clair County Jail, the complaint says. While riding to the jail, Taylor claims he was forced to sit in the police car with a police dog on his lap.
Taylor remained incarcerated through Oct. 6, 2011, according to the complaint. While in jail, Zimmer bullied Taylor and attempted to coerce him to sign a plea agreement by hitting Taylor’s left hand, the suit states. Taylor also suffered physical and emotional damages while in jail when his cell mates threatened to rape him, the complaint says.
Taylor was released from jail only after a judge found that Dupo officers’ earlier search of his home without warrant was illegal and violated Taylor’s constitutional rights.
“The judge ordered Plaintiff released from custody without undue delay,” the suit states. “The Court further ordered that any non-contraband items seized from Plaintiff’s property be immediately returned to the Plaintiff or his representative said property including guitar, X-box and assorted video games, various boxes of tools, butterfly knives, nunchakus and sword.”
In his 10-count complaint, Taylor is seeking a judgment of more than $500,000, plus attorney’s fees, costs and interest.
Thomas O. Falb of Williamson, Webster, Falb and Glisson in Alton will be representing him.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-177.