Litchfield PD, Madison County Juvenile Detention Home sued by mother

Andrea Dearden Nov. 18, 2010, 6:21am

The mother of a 13-year-old boy is suing the Litchfield Police Department, accusing officers of arresting and detaining her son for a crime they knew he didn't commit.

Sandra Becker filed the complaint on behalf of her teenage son. The suit filed Nov. 4 in Madison County Circuit Court lists Madison County Juvenile Detention Home, City of Litchfield Police Department and two of its officers as defendants.

Becker says her son was 13-years-old when the alleged incident happened in November 2009. The woman says a group of friends were playing near Dairy Queen in Litchfield when her son and another boy got into a verbal altercation.

Another teenager allegedly picked up a rock and threw it at the boy who had been arguing with Becker's son, hitting the other boy in the head. Becker says her son was not involved in the rock throwing.

According to court documents, the victim's mother called Litchfield Police who responded and took the boy who threw the rock into custody. The teen allegedly confessed to hitting the boy in the head and was arrested on a charge of aggravated battery. Following that confession, Becker says Litchfield police officer Corey E. Bilyeu returned to the Dairy Queen, questioned her son about the incident and then allowed him to go home.

An hour after her son was told to go home, Becker says Litchfield Police Sergeant Eric B. Lamb drove to the family's home and arrested the teen for suspected mob action - a felony. The 13-year-old was allegedly taken to the police station and interrogated by Bilyeu for approximately two hours. Becker says she was only allowed to see her son for a few minutes and was ordered to wait in another room during the questioning.

Becker says, after the interrogation, Bilyeu ordered executed a Juvenile Detention Authorization. She says Juvenile Detention Officer Eric Jolley then transported her son to the Madison County Juvenile Detention Home. Becker contends Bilyeu did not have the right detain her son because he is not a juvenile probation or detention officer. She acknowledges officer Jolley has authorization to detain juveniles but argues he did not follow the required steps that would have allowed him to legally incarcerate her son.

According to the complaint, Becker's son was locked up at the Madison County Juvenile Detention for nearly 86 hours. She says the 13-year-old, who has no criminal history, suffered severe anxiety attacks while in custody.

Becker says her son was released from detention on the following Tuesday and all charges against him were eventually dismissed.

Becker accuses the Litchfield Police Department and Bilyeu of false arrest, false imprisonment and abuse of power. The mother says the defendants blatantly violated her son's rights by arresting him and detaining him for three days, even though someone else had already confessed and been charged with the crime in question. She is asking these defendants pay at least $200,000 in damages for her son's emotional distress, humiliation, loss of reputation in the community, loss of freedom.

Becker also accuses Jolley and the Madison County Juvenile Detention Home of false imprisonment and is asking they pay $150,000 in damages.

Becker is represented by Kent Follmer of Urbana. They request a jury trial.

Madison County Circuit Court case no. 10-L-1125.

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