Three men are suing several police officers, alleging they were arrested and charged after confronting a woman they observed holding an infant in her lap and texting while driving.
Shane Lyberger, Andrew Lyberger and Robert Dailey field the complaint April 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against Scott Snider, Andrew Harvard and Jamie James.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs allege Shane Lyberger was driving an SUV in Centralia and Wamac on April 2, 2017 with Robert Dailey and Andrew Lyberger riding as passengers. They allege that at roughly 9:20 p.m., a woman driving another vehicle began to pass the plaintiffs’ vehicle. They claim they observed the woman holding an infant on her lap while driving and texting on a mobile phone.
The plaintiffs allegedly attempted to get the woman’s attention, but when they got close to her she would speed up. She drove behind a liquor store and stopped her vehicle at a trailer home located on Jana Drive in Wamac. The plaintiffs pulled up to the woman’s vehicle, and she rolled down her window, the suit states.
Dailey allegedly began recording the interaction using a camera. Shane Lyberger claims he told her that driving while holding an infant was illegal and dangerous. The woman allegedly did not deny that she had been driving while holding the baby, adding that she had just left the hospital and the child had stitches in his face.
She allegedly asked why the plaintiffs were bothered by her conduct, but stopped when she noticed that she was being recorded. She told the plaintiffs that recording the interaction was against the law and threatened to call law enforcement.
Dailey allegedly exited the vehicle to document the incident and agreed that the woman should call law enforcement. The woman allegedly told the plaintiffs that she would press charges for recording her. The plaintiffs claim they were recording from public property.
The plaintiffs chose to wait for law enforcement to arrive. Snider allegedly arrived at approximately 9:30 p.m. He first spoke to the woman from his vehicle. He then exited his vehicle and walked to the plaintiff’s vehicle, the suit states. After the plaintiffs refused to provide identification, Snider allegedly called for backup. Harvard arrived shortly after and the plaintiffs were instructed that they were being detained.
James also arrived on scene and spoke to the woman, who allegedly told the officer that the plaintiffs may have recorded her breastfeeding her infant while driving. The plaintiffs deny that she was breastfeeding.
The plaintiffs claim they were then unlawfully searched, arrested, placed in patrol vehicles and taken to the Centralia Police Department. Dailey was then transported to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
Shane and Andrew Lyberger posted $150 bond each and were released. Dailey posted $750 bond and was released during his appearance at the Marion County Circuit Court the next day.
Shane Lyberger’s SUV was allegedly towed and impounded.
The plaintiffs were charged for resisting a peace officer, the suit states.
However, they allege the woman was not cited, arrested, or charged for endangering her child and texting while driving.
The Marion County State’s Attorney’s Office moved to dismiss the charges against the plaintiffs, which was granted.
The plaintiffs allege they were unlawfully detained.
“Plaintiffs had done nothing unlawful and waited for the police to arrive to denounce the woman’s illegal and irresponsible behavior,” the suit states. “No crime was committed nor was about to be committed by plaintiffs whatsoever that warranted reasonable suspicion.”
The plaintiffs seek an unspecified award for compensatory damages and punitive damages to be determined by a jury, plus attorney’s fees, interest, and court costs. They are represented by Scott Sievers of Springfield.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois case number 3:19-cv-369