CLICK HERE TO REPORT LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRUPTION (Provide as much information as possible: full names, descriptions, dates, times, activity, witnesses, etc.)

Telephone: 347-632-9775

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lawsuit Filed by Politician for False Arrest

Green Bay officers backed on stopping alderman
Vander Leest sues city, others for $1 million

The city and police department "stand behind what the officers did" when they stopped Alderman and Brown County Supervisor John Vander Leest in March on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, Green Bay City Attorney Allison Swanson said Wednesday. Vander Leest filed a $1 million lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court against the city, several current and former members of the police department and the insurance company that owns the city's liability policy. Swanson said Wednesday the city has not been served with the complaint but she has read it. "We think there's no merit to the complaint," she said. "There's a lot of quotes in there, and I think they're out of context and just not true. There are people who are friends of Vander Leest's who are hurt by the complaint." Vander Leest's blood alcohol level was 0.03 percent, well below the state's 0.08 legal threshold of intoxication for drivers in Wisconsin, when he was stopped on South Monroe Avenue early March 16 after leaving a downtown bar. Three preliminary breath tests were taken before Vander Leest was arrested and taken to St. Vincent Hospital for the blood test. The citation was dropped when the test revealed he was not drunk. Vander Leest said he was targeted by police because of his votes involving police wages, overtime and benefits. He also said city officials failed to help clear his name when the blood alcohol level was known. The Milwaukee law firm of Gunta and Reak is representing the city in the case. Swanson said she asked the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board whether Vander Leest has a conflict of interest because of his elected position. But she was told a conflict would exist only if a settlement came before the City Council.

Named as defendants are Police Chief Jim Arts and officers who responded in the case, then-Lt. Jerry Johnson and officers Jeff Brann and David Steffens. Also named are former Lt. Colleen Belongea, former officer Daniel Schmechel, the city of Green Bay, and the Cities & Villages Mutual Insurance Company of Brookfield, which has a liability policy with the city. Schmitt and the police department have referred all questions to Swanson. In addition to $1 million, Vander Leest is asking the defendants to publicly apologize and ensure the apologies receive widespread media coverage. Vander Leest's complaint alleges false arrest, illegal seizure, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and defamation. He also says he was warned by an unidentified member of Mayor Jim Schmitt's staff that he should "drop this matter or political damage would occur."


Anonymous said...

I sure don't trust John Vander Leest farther than I can throw him!

Anonymous said...

How far can you throw Officer Dave Steffens. Do you have enough common sense to figure out that the same cop being named in several lawsuits is the real issue? It is also clear that the police departments internal affairs department has more complaints about this one guy then most of its other officers combined. Shame on the city for not getting this guy off the streets. DO YOUR JOB !!!

Anonymous said...

You know. You show nothing to back up your claim that Steffens is named in "several lawsuits". What does this mean? And it is also a well known fact that Officers that are singled out for "IA Action" are also some of the most effective and active Officers on the job. You don't become "above the rest" by not stretching out and doing the best job. And this is always interpreted by some (usually perpetrators) as something to complain to "IA" about. (Hmm. I wonder what you did to attract attention by good Police Officers?)
I would submit that the GBPD DOES DO THEIR JOB, both on the street and in one of the best "IA" Departments in the State.
And to get back to the main topic, What kind of Alderman (read: "servant of the constituents") who professes to be looking out for the better of the people, lowering taxes and preventing unnecessary costs to the people would then turn around and SUE the same people? Who is "The City". It IS the people! Now we know where Mr. VanderLeest's real allegiance lies. It is "all about ME!". To hell with "The People"! "I want my money! They embarrassed me!" (even though it was a legal stop because of his erratic driving). Therefore, no grounds for a Federal lawsuit and a further waste of time money.

Anonymous said...

One of the best IA departments in the state? You've obviously never put in a complaint with them. There is no accountability. The Green Bay Police Department is a joke. The cops they hire have almost no background or prior training in law enforcement. And they are trigger happy. They unload their magazines and only hit the target once or twice.