A north suburban man filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging Mundelein police used "unjustifiable violence" when they pulled him from a vehicle and used a Taser on him multiple times during a traffic stop on New Year's Day.
Steven Kotlinski and his wife, Jean Kotlinski, said they'd just left a New Year's Eve party with their children, 22-year-old Craig, 20-year-old Corey and a 22-year-old family friend, when they were pulled over.
"[One of the officers] said, 'Had you been drinking?' and I said, 'No. I’m the designated driver,' Jean Kotlinski recalled.
Still, she was asked to submit to a field sobriety test.
But after several minutes of waiting on his wife, Steve Kotlinski, who was sitting in the passenger seat of the car, became concerned and exited the car.
He said he told the officers that he had a bad heart, got in the car and buckled himself in.
"I'm just sitting there minding my own business and the next thing I know, the doors are ripped open violently," he explained. "I undid my seat belt. I turned to get out of the car, and as soon as soon as I started to lean forward he shot me in the chest with his Taser."
All told, the two officers used the device on the Lake Zurich father a total of five times. He maintains that he never resisted and continued to warn them of his heart condition.
"I didn't move towards the officers at all. I never spoke to the officers, and these guys are on me like a couple of pitbulls," he said.
Jean Kotlinski said she looked over, saw her husband laying on the ground in the cold January air and thought he was dead.
"I was amazed," said the couple's attorney, Christopher Smith. "I mean, even after they did this to him, he's on the ground screaming, 'I can't get up. I can't breathe. I can't breathe,' and the officer is yanking at him, saying, 'You've got to get up. You've got to get up.' Why?
Jean Kotlinski ultimately passed her sobriety test with a 0.0 Blood Alcohol Concentration, the suit claims. Steven Kotlinksi was later convicted of misdemeanor obstruction of a peace officer for stepping out of the car. He sad it's baseless to even suggest he got in the way of the traffic stop and vows to appeal.
The incident was recorded by the squad car's dashboard camera.
Mundelein Police Deputy Chief Eric Guenther on Tuesday said he could not comment on the lawsuit because the department had not yet been formally served with the papers. He also would not confirm the employment status of officer Turek and Raciak.
The seven-count suit seeks a jury trial, claiming violation of the Fourth Amendment for excessive force and illegal seizure, as well as false arrest, failure to intervene, malicious prosecution and battery.
The suit seeks punitive damages against the village and the officers, as well as attorney fees and any additional relief.