Coal City firefighter sues for false arrest over looting charge - New York News

Coal City firefighter sues for false arrest over post-tornado looting charge

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A Coal City firefighter who was arrested on a looting charge after tornadoes struck last week has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a Will County sheriff's officer made up the story he used to justify the arrest, the Sun-Times is reporting.

The firefighter, Michael Barrow, was arrested in downstate Diamond and charged with looting a tobacco shop last Sunday after a tornado heavily damaged some stores, Will County sheriff's police said at the time.

Prosecutors later decided there wasn't sufficient evidence to charge Barrow, and the case was referred back to the sheriff's police.

According to the lawsuit, the charge was dropped Monday.

Barrow and his wife, Kaylie Barrow, who are asking for at least $1.75 million in damages, went to Diamond to check on relatives and found their family safe but "found the house and property devastated," according to the suit.

Kaylie Barrow's great-grandmother, the owner of the property, called from Arizona and asked the Barrows to search the house and barn for keepsakes, according to the lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Chicago.

They were near the barn when Will County sheriff's Deputy Michael Blouin approached and "immediately" handcuffed Michael Barrow and accused him of trespassing and looting, even though Barrow's wife and other family members told him that wasn't the case, according to the suit, which says: "To justify the arrest, defendant Blouin fabricated a scenario in which he found Michael at a commercial establishment located several acres away."

The lawsuit also names a sheriff's spokeswoman who "knowingly publicized the fabricated scenario to media." Kathy Hoffmeyer, the spokeswoman, did not respond to a call Saturday seeking comment. Nor did another sheriff's spokesman.

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