Legal action against force considered

By Bill Schwingel

A DeKalb resident is considering legal action against the DeKalb Police Department for abuse during an arrest which led to her father’s hospitalization.

DeKalb Police arrested Thomas Rodriguez, 38, 1100 W. Lincoln Hwy., Apt. 509, on an outstanding warrant at about 7:45 p.m. Saturday for retail theft at his cousin’s home.

“DeKalb doesn’t need men like them” in the police department, said Thomas’ cousin Norma Rodriguez, 1010 E. Locust St. Thomas told police he would come out of the house but the police “just barged in,” she said.

In 1978, Norma Rodriguez filed a lawsuit against the DeKalb Police Department and settled out of court for a similar situation, she said.

She said after the officers pushed her father against the wall while entering, police pushed him into a refrigerator because he asked to see an arrest warrant. “I consider it police brutality,” she said.

Her father, who previously had two back surgeries, was taken to Kishwaukee Community Hospital by her mother, treated for an inflamed hip and released, Norma Rodriguez said.

Norma Rodriguez contacted the DeKalb Human Relations Commission to seek defense counsel because she said the incident violates DeKalb’s human relations ordinance. However, the commission told her to seek a private attorney, she said.

“It is not apparent the ordinance is in violation,” said Gary Boden, staff liaison to the commission and assistant DeKalb city manager. “There are two sides to every story,” Boden said.

DeKalb Police Chief Don Berke said he has no information regarding the incident could not address the issue because Rodriguez has made no formal complaint.

An officer does not need to have an arrest warrant to act on it, said DeKalb State’s Attorney Mike Coghlan.

There have been many instances involving police over-aggressiveness, Rodriguez said. “I’m not saying I’m going to sue again,” but “if I have to bring out everything I know, I will.”