Beardstown Officer’s Motion For Partial Summary Judgment in Federal Suit Denied, Trial to Start this Summer

By Benjamin Cox on April 3, 2024 at 6:11am

A Peoria woman’s federal lawsuit against a Beardstown Police officer for a civil rights violation for alleged excessive force and unreasonable seizure appears to be heading to trial this summer.

According to court documents filed on March 25th, U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough denied Beardstown Police Officer Ian Dennis’ for partial summary judgment to have the case dismissed.

On February 15, 2021, Lisa T. McMahon, a resident of Tazewell County was in Beardstown visiting a friend. McMahon is said to have driven to the Wheel Inn to play slot machines around 3PM, and then left the Wheel Inn on foot between 6:45 and 7PM after witnessing a single-vehicle crash. McMahon is said to have used her phone to record video of people attempting to remove the vehicle from a ditch. According to eye witnesses to the crash, they told arriving Beardstown officers that an unknown white female that was intoxicated tried to dissuade people from calling the police over the crash and discussed “blackmailing” the driver involved in the crash. The unknown female was later identified as McMahon.

Further court documents indicate that McMahon left the Wheel Inn on foot to her friend’s house nearby and entered their garage. Officer Dennis is said to have followed McMahon to the residence after following footprints in the snow. Once he arrived on scene, their following interactions becomes a timeline of disputed information in court documents.

Both parties agree in testimony recorded that McMahon was not involved in the car crash. McMahon says she voluntarily provided Dennis with identification. During radio communications, according to records, Dennis was ordered to detain McMahon for further questioning.

At some point in their interaction, McMahon was placed into handcuffs and allegedly hit the ground causing major facial injuries.

In its ruling on March 25th, the court determined that Dennis’ defense was not entitled to summary judgment on McMahon’s unreasonable seizure claim, saying that McMahon was only detained in a stop-and-frisk or Terry stop and not in an actual arrest. The court also took issue with McMahon being placed in handcuffs when the court established that outside of McMahon being intoxicated, she was at no risk to the officer’s safety during the stop. The court also determined that Dennis does not have entitlement to qualified immunity in the case.

A trial for the case has been set for late July.