Woman claims Fairview Heights cops beat her

By Kelly Holleran | Jun 4, 2012

A St. Clair County woman claims two Fairview Heights police officers wrongly beat her and pepper sprayed her as she was sitting in her hotel room.

Philana Smoot filed a lawsuit May 10 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Patrolman Birkhead, Travis D. Montgomery and the city of Fairview Heights.

In her complaint, Smoot says she had rented a room at the French Village Motel in St. Clair County and was sitting in the room on May 10, 2011, when Birkhead and Montgomery grabbed her.

They placed their hands "on and about plaintiff's head, ears, shoulders, wrists and person, he placed his weight on top of plaintiff causing her ears, jaw, face, arms, wrists, and body to become injured, swollen, bruised, concussed, damaged, and said injuries, including hearing loss are ongoing and/or permanent," the suit states.

While Smoot was lying on the floor of her hotel room with her arms behind her back following the attack, the police officers pepper sprayed her, the complaint says.

Because of the incident, Smoot claims she experienced severe disgust, shame, apprehension, outrage, insult and anger. In addition, she has lost sleep and suffered from fear, nervousness, a loss of appetite and emotional distress, according to the complaint.

In addition to the officers, Smoot names the city of Fairview Heights as a defendant, saying it denied her the "right to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment and her rights of substantive due process as secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."

In her five-count complaint, Smoot seeks a judgment for unspecified compensatory damages, plus other damages the court deems just.

John J. Pawloski of The Law Office of John J. Pawloski in St. Louis will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-253.

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