Testimony starts in Madison malicious prosecution trial

Amelia Flood May 4, 2009, 2:00pm

A trial against the city of Madison and one of its police officers over allegations of battery and malicious prosecution is under way in Madison County Circuit Court.

Jury selection and opening testimony in the plaintiff's case started Monday. The trial will resume Tuesday at 9 a.m.

The suit was brought by Stephen Rose of St. Charles County, Mo. He originally sued the city and its officers over 12 counts of battery, malicious prosecution, wrongful imprisonment and defamation. His case stems from the 2006 arrest of a prostitute that resulted in Rose's arrest by Madison police officers Neal Mize and Curtis Bradley.

Bradley was granted a summary judgement in April. The judgement found for Bradley on the counts he was charged with.

Currently, Rose is asking for at least $50,000 and other relief in each count.

The plaintiff alleges that on June 6, 2006, while working as a security guard at a truck stop, Rose encountered a woman engaged in prostitution and a man with crack cocaine. After calling 911, Rose placed a red light on the top of his car, per a conversation with the dispatcher, to help police find his location.

When the officers got there, Rose alleges, he was arrested for multiple felony counts. He was held for two days before posting bond. Shortly afterward, he lost his job due to the arrests, according to the complaint.

All the felony charges against Rose were dropped.

His suit claims that the officers acted inappropriately and that he suffered mental anguish, loss of reputation and pain from the incident. Rose also contends that he has been unable to seek similar employment due to the arrest.

Madison rejected most of the plaintiff's claims in its answer, except those about how the incident came about and as to the officers' employment. It argues that Mize and Bradley acted within their roles as police officers. It further contends that their actions are covered under state law.

Mize's testimony rounded out the day. Mize was questioned on whether Rose met the exemption for carrying weapons as a security guard among other things.

Mize insisted under questioning from both the plaintiff's attorney and his own lawyer that he had acted with probable cause in arresting Rose, although the St. Clair County State's Attorney eventually dropped most of the charges against Rose.

Mize said the amount of equipment like that used by police was a factor in the arrest as was the uniform Rose was wearing at the time. The uniform, shown in a picture to jurors, is that of a St. Louis City Park Ranger. Rose was not a park ranger at the time of the arrest, Mize said.

"This is just not normal for him to have that," Mize said. "If I quit the Madison Police tomorrow, I wouldn't keep this uniform … I believed him to be a very dangerous individual."

Madison Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder is presiding.

Rose is represented by Brian L. Polinske of the Edwardsville firm Polinske and Associates. The city and officer are represented by city attorney James Craney of the St. Louis-based Brown and James P.C.

The case is Madison case number 06-L-733.

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