Grootens responds to excessive force lawsuit

By Nick Kovatch on October 10 at 8:25am

Jacksonville’s Police Chief is speaking out against the latest lawsuit accusing his officers of excessive force against a disabled man during an arrest last year.

Fifty-three-year-old Steven Elsome filed a federal lawsuit against the city claiming his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. You can read about the lawsuit by clicking on yesterday’s story in the news section of our website.

Elsome was arrested in May of 2012 for aggravated battery of a police officer, resisting a police officer and theft. The theft stemmed from Elsome stealing a puppy from a neighbor. Elsome claimed in the lawsuit he took the dog because it was being neglected.

Police reports indicate when an officer went to Elsome’s residence, Elsome was vulgar and officers could smell alcohol on his breath. Reports indicate Elsome had to be taken to the ground because he resisted arrest, flailed his legs about while the officer tried to subdue him on the ground, and suffered a laceration above his eye. Reports also indicate Elsome kicked an officer during the arrest.

Elsome pleaded guilty to the theft charge earlier this year. The other charges were dismissed.

Tony Grootens is Jacksonville Police Chief.

“You’ve got an individual who steals a puppy from a little girl and he resists arrest in the process of the officer investigating the theft,” says Grootens. “The witness accounts all confirm exactly what the officer’s report said he did. I hope the suit goes no where and my recommendation to the city’s attorney is the fight it to the very end.”

Grootens says his officers have never used excessive force.

“I will not tolerate abusive police officers,” says Grootens. “I won’t do it. If they’re abusive they don’t belong here. But when they’re doing their job and they meet resistance from certain aspects of the public they’re trained to arrest people and use techniques to get them under control to arrest them. If someone gets hurt in the process, I’m sorry. I don’t want that to happen. But don’t resist arrest.”

The lawyer representing Elsome in his lawsuit claim Jacksonville Police prepare false and incomplete police reports, or prepare police reports to cover up police misconduct.

“I have no idea where that came from,” says Grootens. “Maybe they tried to get some police reports and didn’t feel they got all of them, but I don’t know.”

Elsome is represented by attorney Louis J. Meyer of Meyer & Kiss in Peoria.