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July 2014

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Driver alleges police abuse in new federal lawsuit filed against village of Butler

Butler officers beat, abused driver, lawsuit says

Butler — For the second time in three months, a federal lawsuit has been filed against the village related to misconduct in the police department.

Gary Mark Stone, 55, of New Berlin alleges in a complaint filed in the Eastern District of the United States District Court in Milwaukee that Lt. Brian Pergande and Officer Nicholas J. Boyle beat him and used excessive force while arresting him in May of 2011 on charges of driving while intoxicated, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges were later dropped.

Stone also alleges that Officer Joel C. Fus, who witnessed the incident, "intentionally refused to intervene or stop" the assault.

The lawsuit also names former Police Chief Michael Cosgrove and the village as defendants for being negligent for hiring, training and supervising the three officers that Stone's lawyers described as "mentally and emotionally unstable and unfit to perform their duties."

Claims of abuse

Stone alleges he, his wife, and father were driving in the village when they were pulled over by Pergande after Stone turned into a driveway to turn around and change his direction of travel.

Pergande accussed Stone of being "a drunk" and ordered him to submit to various field sobriety tests.

Pergande ignored Stone's and his wife's effort to explain that Stone could not perform some of the exercises in the field sobriety test because he was disabled as a result of work-related back injuries that occurred two decades ago, according to the complaint.

At the time of the incident, Stone was suffering from congestive heart failure, diabetes, a kidney condition, lower back pain, and various other disabilities, according to the complaint.

While placing Stone under arrest and handcuffing him, Pergande struck Stone and Stone's head hit the wall of a building as he was falling, according to the complaint.

More officers arrive

Officers Boyle and Fus had arrived at the scene to assist Pergande and, according to the complaint, Boyle and Pergande kicked and stomped Stone several times, shouting "stop resisting."

Pergande and Boyle fired a taser gun, twice striking Stone with electrical charges. Pergande called him a "(expletive) drunk" and spat on him, according to the complaint.

After being treated at Waukesha Memorial Hospital for his injuries, Stone was transported in Fus's squad car to the Waukesha County jail.

According to the complaint, jail personnel laundered Stone's "bloody and spittle-ridden clothing" to eliminate evidence of the assault by the officers.

Support for the officers

Chadwick expressed confidence the village and the officers would be exonerated. She said according to the police report Stone had resisted arrest while being arrested for driving while under the influence.

According to the complaint, Stone denied he had been drinking and plead no contest to charge of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence as part of a plea agreement that resulted in the resisting arrest and disorderly conduct charges being dropped.

Legal cases and spending

During the past 18 months, the village has spent about $120,000 in legal fees related to police misconduct. Approximately $70,000 was spent on legal fees in 2013 and, so far, more than $50,000 has been spent in 2014, most of it related to various allegations of misconduct.

Taxpayers will not have to pay for the two federal law suits because most of those costs will be covered by the village's municipal liability insurance carrier, according to Village Administrator Kayla Chadwick.

The village will be paying its two lawyers and a retired municipal judge a total of more than $750 an hour to conduct what is expected to be a lengthy disciplinary hearing later this summer in an effort to fire Pergande.

On Feb 17, Pergande and Officer Chad Rahn filed a federal law suit alleging that the village and the Waukesha County Sheriff's office harassed and discriminated against them and violated their constitutional rights during an investigation of the department and Cosgrove by the sheriff's office.

The investigation began in early 2013 after Pergande and Rahn had complained to village official about Cosgrove's misconduct.

Cosgrove resigned in the midst of the investigation that concluded that sexist and racist attitudes, along with other deeds of misconduct, were condoned by the chief who often watched pornography with some of his fellow officers on village computers during morning work hours.

Since April of 2013, Pergande has been on paid administrative leave, which has cost taxpayers abut $95,000 in his salary and benefits, while awaiting criminal official misconduct charges to which he has plead not guily

Rahn has twice been suspended in the past year. Two other officers on the seven member force received written reprimands as a result of the sheriff's investigation.

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