City of Beardstown Answers Federal Lawsuit

By Benjamin Cox on April 11, 2022 at 8:01am

The City of Beardstown and Beardstown Police Officer Ian Dennis have filed official responses to a federal lawsuit filed against them in December.

The responses, filed by both parties’ counsel Patrick J. Ruberry of Litchfield Cavo LLP in Chicago denies wrongdoing by either party.

The suit was filed by Lisa T. McMahon on December 22nd in the U.S. District Court of Central Illinois in Springfield alleging that Officer Dennis illegally detained her for a false arrest, used excessive force, and improperly charged her for resisting or obstructing a peace officer without probable cause.

McMahon is being represented in the suit by Louis Meyer of Meyer & Kiss, LLC of Peoria.

The accusations stem from an incident from February 15th of last year in which McMahon says she was at the Wheel Inn in Beardstown at around 7:30PM and captured a car crash on video with her cellphone that occurred near the intersection of 6th Street and Arenz Street in Beardstown while she was playing slot machines. A passenger in another vehicle reported the collision to Beardstown Police due to one of the cars involved ending up in a ditch. According to McMahon’s account, she left the Wheel Inn shortly after and visited a friend’s residence on 4th Street nearby prior to officers arriving on scene.

Officer Dennis then allegedly began looking for Dennis and followed tracks in the snow to the nearby residence, where McMahon was subsequently arrested and charged for one count of resisting or obstructing a peace officer. The charge was eventually dismissed by the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office on September 22nd of last year.

McMahon alleges that while Dennis handcuffed her without cause, he grabbed her by the back of the neck and threw her face first into a gravel driveway, injuring her face and mouth causing injuries that were later treated at a nearby hospital.

McMahon is seeking punitive and compensatory damages

In their answer to the suit, the city admits that Dennis followed McMahon to the residence and handcuffed her but denied that Dennis acted inappropriately. The city also says that an ambulance was summoned to the 4th Street address for medical assistance but denied that McMahon’s injuries were caused by Dennis. In Dennis’ separate answer, it states that Dennis was acting appropriately as an officer performing discretionary duties and that his actions were lawful in light of the law and based upon information had at that the time, and that he was entitled to qualified immunity for any wrongdoing in his capacity as an officer. The answer also says that any injuries or damages that McMahon incurred from the incident were “due to her own negligent, willful, wanton, and unlawful conduct.”

A jury trial has been asked for by both parties. A pre-trial conference has been set for April 26th at the federal courthouse in Urbana before Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long. A possible trial in the case may not be heard until February of next year.