Dupo files to remove civil rights case against village to federal court

Christina Stueve May 17, 2012, 5:20am


The Village of Dupo and four police officers who are being sued for allegedly violating a citizen's civil rights is seeking to remove the case to federal court.

In his April 11 lawsuit, Gregory Taylor claims Dupo police repeatedly arrested him without probable cause and searched his property without authority. Defendants include the village and officers Jeremy Zimmer, Kevin Smith, Daniel Smith and Ryan Corbin.

According to the removal notice filed May 11, the plaintiff's claim is based on federal law and belongs in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Taylor alleges Smith wrongfully arrested him 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 owned the property and should never have been detained or lost his vehicle.

Again, on Aug. 22, 2010, Taylor was arrested by Corbin for trespassing at the same property, according to the complaint.

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, Zimmer arrived and arrested Taylor, charging him with domestic battery.

After the arrest, Taylor claims he spent 30 days in jail. He was arrested by Zimmer again on May 21, 2011, after he was accused of participating in a domestic dispute, according to the complaint.

The second arrest was not justified, he claims.

During that arrest, Zimmer told Taylor's girlfriend he was a sex offender, and had warrants against him, which were false statements, according to the complaint. Zimmer also entered Taylor's home at 1624 N. Main St. in Dupo 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 not to 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.

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 was 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."

Taylor seeks a judgment of more than $50,000.

Thomas O. Falb of Williamson, Webster, Falb and Glisson in Alton will be representing him. Charles Pierce of the Pierce Law Firm represents the defense.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-177.

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