Woman arrested during car repossession sues Edwardsville, others

By Kelly Holleran | Apr 9, 2009

A lawsuit pending in Madison County Circuit Court blames three Edwardsville police officers for an alleged unlawful arrest of a woman and her 16-year-old daughter during a vehicle repossession.

Angelique Kincaid is seeking more than $1 million in a suit she filed individually and on behalf of her 16-year-old daughter, Spanniesha Johnson, April 6 in Madison County Circuit Court against the city of Edwardsville; Edwardsville police officers Timothy Gallion, James Murray and Eric Jones; Image Recovery Service and AmeriCredit Financial Services.

Kincaid was alleged to have been more than a year behind on payments of her Nissan Pathfinder when the incident took place, according to the complaint.

She says she was at home with her daughter July 30 when they noticed a black tow truck near her vehicle, which was parked outside their home at 201 Southpointe Dr., Apartment A in Edwardsville. The driver was looking at Kincaid's car, according to the complaint.

Knowing she was behind on her car payments and could possibly be on a repossession list, Kincaid approached the man and asked who he was. However, he returned to the tow truck without answering her question, the suit states.

At the time of Kincaid's question, the tow truck was parked behind the Pathfinder, but was not attached to it. Kincaid proceeded to enter her car while the tow truck driver lifted the back end of the Pathfinder off the ground, according to court documents.

Despite Kincaid's attempts to drive her vehicle away from the tow truck, the vehicle was immobilized and its front tires made a loud squealing noise, generated smoke clouds and deposited tire rubber residue on the ground, she says.

Kincaid sent Johnson to ask the tow truck driver to speak with her, but he refused. So, Kincaid told him she was going to call 911 to get assistance with stopping the repossession, the complaint says.

When Kincaid spoke to a dispatcher, the dispatcher told her police could not stop a repossession, but a patrol car would be sent to the scene, the complaint says.

Meanwhile, Kincaid called AmeriCredit, which had previously told her she had until Aug. 1 to make a payment before she would be placed on a repossession list. Again, AmeriCredit told Kincaid she had not yet been placed on the list, the lawsuit alleges.

Before police arrived, Kincaid made additional phone calls to her two brothers – Cook County Sheriff's deputy Frederick Kincaid and Chicago police officer Rodney Kincaid.

"Frederick Kincaid informed her that a repossession is a civil matter and the police should not be able to assist the tow truck driver in the repossession and that once she got out of the vehicle she would be unable to do anything to stop the repossession or verify they were even repossessing the right vehicle," the suit states.

When Edwardsville officers arrived, they talked with the tow truck driver before approaching the passenger side of the Nissan.

Officers ordered Johnson, who was sitting in the passenger seat, out of the vehicle. After she complied, Murray informed Kincaid he had a legal document to recover the vehicle because Kincaid had not made a payment in 435 days. However, he refused to show the document to Kincaid, the complaint says.

When Murray refused to answer Kincaid's questions, contact AmeriCredit or show her documentation, Kincaid asked to speak to a superior officer at the advice of her two brothers.

"Later, Sgt. Timothy Gallion arrived and was immediately very hostile towards Ms. Kincaid by cursing at her, threatening to break the window and drag her from the vehicle, and refusing to show her the documents he indicated that Image Recovery Services, Inc. had provided the Edwardsville Police Department allegedly authorizing the repossession," the suit states.

After Gallion's arrival, Kincaid called Johnson to the vehicle, she says.

"At this time, Sergeant Gallion motioned to Officer Jones, who proceeded to grab the minor, Spanniesha Johnson, by the wrist, twisting her left arm behind her back and aggressively pushed upward, causing the minor child to bend forward," the suit states. "Officer Jones then procured her right wrist as well and hand cuffed both wrists behind her back."

Jones shoved Johnson into the back of a police car and ordered her to sit upright after she landed on her shoulder, according to the complaint.

Because of the incident, Johnson's wrist was fractured, the suit states.

Upon witnessing the scene, Kincaid rolled down the passenger side window and pleaded with officers to release her daughter, the complaint says.

However, Gallion used the opportunity to reach through the window and unlock the doors. That allowed Murray the chance to open the driver's side door and pull Kincaid from the vehicle by her clothing, she alleges.

While being pulled from the car, Kincaid hit her knee on the door, according to the suit.

After placing Kincaid in handcuffs and in the police car, Gallion told her she was being arrested for child endangerment for allowing Johnson to exit the Nissan while it was elevated off the ground, the complaint says.

Later, Gallion told Kincaid he would not charge her and allowed her to remove her personal belongings from the Pathfinder.

Kincaid says officers violated her and Johnson's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. They also lost their physical liberty and experienced pain, emotional trauma and suffering due to the officers' actions, according to the complaint.

Kincaid claims the officers were acting in cohorts with Image Recovery Service and AmeriCredit to take possession of Kincaid's Nissan.

"The Defendant police officers not only aided and assisted in the repossession of Angelique Kincaid's Nissan Pathfinder, without their assistance the repossession would not have occurred as a vehicle cannot be repossessed with the owner inside said vehicle," the suit states.

In the 28-count suit, Kincaid is seeking damages of more than $1.45 million, plus unspecified punitive damages and costs.

Penni S. Livingston, Kevin M. Niemeyer and Nick M. San Diego of The Livingston Law Firm in Fairview Heights will be representing her.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-349.

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