Driver: Dash Cam Video Bolsters Race Case

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sherida Hughes claims she was pulled over, verbally abused and put in jail because she is black. (Published Thursday, Mar 17, 2011)

    A Yorkville woman has filed a civil lawsuit against the Village of Montgomery and four of its police officers, accusing them of arresting her under "false pretenses" and later retaliating against her when she filed a formal complaint.

    Sherida Hughes has obtained dash cam video which she said was recorded with the officer's squad car camera on the night in question.  She shared the video with NBC Chicago and said it bolsters her case.

    Hughes battle with the Montgomery Police Department began in October 2009 when she was pulled over and accused of speeding.

    "He said, 'I pulled you over for speeding.  I got you going 57 in a 45.' And I just told him there's no way," she recalled.

    After being questioned on the side of the road for nearly two hours, officers finally issued a speeding ticket and let her go.

    She said she filed a formal complaint the next day.

    After the complaint, Montgomery police accused Hughes of shutting her vehicle's windows on the officer that night.  She was arrested two months later on a charge of obstructing a peace officer and spent a night in jail.

    The dash cam video appears to show her communicating with the officer through the window and the charge was later dropped.

    "It was definitely a retaliation," said Hughes.

    A civil suit against the village of Montgomery and the four officers involved accuses them of arresting her on "false pretenses" that were "motivated by the race of the plaintiffs."

    "The strength of the case is not that they had to spend two hours on the side of the road, but what the officers do once she decides to complain," said Hughes' attorney, Michael Rediger.

    In a written response, the defendants deny the allegations.

    The lawsuit seeks at least $100,000 in damages for each of the six counts listed in the complaint.

    "It was definitely racial profiling at its finest," said Hughes.

    The speeding ticket was later thrown out. 

    Legal teams from both sides are expected in court for a status hearing in June, but Rediger said he doesn't expect the civil trial to get under way until next year.