The Chicago Police Department has taken steps to end the 15-year ordeal of a man who alleges he has been detained more than 60 times on the belief he was the man named in a southern Illinois arrest warrant, a lawyer for city said Monday.
Darren Cole, 50, on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit alleging he had been punched and had guns pointed at him by officers during stops that started in 2006. Cole shares the name and birth date of the man wanted in warrant issued in Marion County. While the stops didn’t lead to charges, the lawsuit states Cole was frequently held for four to six hours.
The Chicago Tribune reports that during a Monday court hearing, Marion Moore, an attorney representing the city of Chicago, told U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland that Marion County authorities have withdrawn the warrant that was causing Cole grief and Chicago officers are being told not to stop Cole on the warrant. He said the message will be read at roll calls for several days.
“Mr. Cole, I hope that this gives you some relief,” Rowland said during the hearing. ``I am sorry to you for the last several years, and I hope you get relief and you’re able to venture freely out into the world.”
Despite the action by police, lawyers for Cole say the litigation will go on because he is seeking punitive relief.
Cole’s count of 60 stops was compiled through interviews he had with his attorneys and documents prepared by police officers.
After his first detention, Cole went to Chicago police’s Harrison District to inquire about fixing the situation. In the lawsuit, he claims officers told him there was nothing they could do and advised him to always carry his driver’s license, car insurance and Social Security card to prove his identity. But the stops continued, with the last documented in the lawsuit occurring on Dec. 7, when Cole was detained for a malfunctioning brake light.
In 2014, an attorney secured a letter from southern Illinois' Marion County stating he is not the Darren Cole wanted by police. And in 2018, a Harrison District sergeant gave him a handwritten note with his personal contact information. But the stops continued, with the last documented in the lawsuit occurring on Dec. 7, when Cole was detained for a malfunctioning brake light.
Cole told the Tribune he is often reduced to using public transportation. The fear of being stopped by police while driving has damaged his relationships with his family. He was unable to visit his father on his deathbed and is refraining from visiting his elderly mother, his lawyers contend.
Cole says he now drives family members’ cars to reduce the stops, and he has a self-imposed curfew of 5 p.m. to avoid winding up in traffic checkpoints.
“I’m very scared. I’m a grown man and I got a curfew. I have to be in the house early. This right here, I’m traumatized,” Cole said. “It hurts so bad to talk about it now. Used to (be), I couldn’t talk about it. My voice is shivery right now.”
The lawsuit alleges the stops of Cole violate his constitutional rights and also resulted in him being verbally and physically assaulted by Chicago police officers. It claims he’s been punched in the face, handcuffed, forced against the hood of police squad cars and had guns pointed at him.
A spokeswoman for Chicago’s Law Department says the lawsuit will be reviewed and there won’t be an immediate comment.