The family of a man whom died after a struggle with the police, who mistook his diabetic state for being drunk, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against four officers and the city of West Chicago.
Four Chicago police officers tried to subdue Jerome Clement in August after they discovered him hunched over the wheel of his car. When Clement resisted, police allegedly used force causing Clement to have a heart attack, fell into a coma and died two weeks later. No alcohol was present in his system.
The five count suit filed Friday in Lake Superior Court cites the defendants for wrongful death and negligence; negligent training, hiring and supervision, excessive force, wrongful arrest and detention; and civil rights violations. The suit seeks undetermined compensatory and punitive damages, lawyer fees and other relief.
The lawsuit singles out Officer Timothy Leimbach as being prone to using excessive force and violence and it contends the city condoned excessive force by its officers and failed to put policies in place to protect citizens.
On September 8, 16 days after suffering a heart attack when struggling with four officers, Clement died. The autopsy showed he died from natural causes from complications of diabetes. The police reports indicate the officers arrived at the scene believed Clement to be drunk, but the paramedics suggested to the officers that Clement showed signs of having a diabetic episode.
The lawsuit claims Leimbach and two other officers forcibly removed the unconscious Clement from his car and placed him under arrest while battering him. When Clement did not follow officers’ order to roll over into a prone position, Leimbach is alleged to have sprayed Clement in the face with a two-second burst of pepper spray before forcing him into a prone position and handcuffing him.
Clement began to struggle, and a fourth officer arrived to assist the officers. With Clement continuing to struggle, Leimbach reportedly struck Clement in the leg with a baton. Medics called to the scene discovered Clement was not breathing and took him to a hospital.
The city had no immediate comment on the lawsuit. An FBI investigation into the case has been concluded and is awaiting a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice, according to FBI Supervisory Special Agent Tom Gancarz.