Status conference set next week in New Athens cop firing

Amelia Flood Dec. 1, 2009, 8:28am

A status conference is set Dec. 8 in a suit over a New Athens police officer's firing for allegedly doing his job.

Plaintiff Steven Blakeney is suing the Village of New Athens, its mayor, and its former police chief for damages of at least $250,000, costs, attorneys' fees and punitive damages.

The defendants have denied Blakeney's allegations and argued that they are immune from punitive damages under the Illinois Local Governmental Tort Immunity Act.

The hearing is set to begin at 10 a.m.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael O'Malley is presiding.
Blakeney alleges he was fired twice over the span of about a year.

The first time, Blakeney alleges he was fired for reporting that then-New Athens Police Chief Larry Kirk turned away and threatened two women who attempted to report crimes.

The second firing, according to Blakeney's complaint, occurred when he refused to not arrest certain people as directed by Mayor Dennis Breithaupt and refused to allow local residents to drive over the speed limit.

He further alleges Kirk made false statements about him to local media outlets.

Blakeney is represented by Michael Brunton and Mary Stewart.
The city and the mayor are represented by Charles Pierce.

Kirk is represented by Michael Wagner.

The case is St. Clair County case number 09-L-77.

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