Lawsuit filed by Kansas trio against Morgan County deputies

By Gary Scott on September 10, 2015 at 1:15pm

A federal lawsuit has been filed against two deputies of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department.

The lawsuit was filed last Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield. It names Deputies Derek Suttles and Joshua Weber, as well as Sheriff Randy Duvendack and Morgan County, as well as “John Does 1 [through] 3”, on behalf of three Kansas residents- Douglas Raney, Michael Shackelford, and Tim Hagen.

The suit, which only represents one side of the claim, indicates the trio was driving through the area to go camping in Michigan when they were pulled over by Derek Suttles Interstate 72 on June 23rd, apparently because of an obstructed license plate.

The suit indicates Suttles then asked Raney if he had anything illegal in the vehicle. Raney said no, and did not consent to a search. A K9 dog was then called, arriving with Deputy Weber. The K9, according to the suit, gave a “positive alert”, and officers searched the vehicle.

According to the litigation, Shackelford was personally searched by Weber, who also demanded and seized his phone.

Ultimately, nothing was found during the search, according to the suit.

The suit claims there was no reason for Suttles to pull the vehicle over.

It says Suttles and Weber acted “with conscious disregard and deliberate indifference to” the rights of the three people who were pulled over. The suit seeks unspecified compensatory damages for the incident, which they say caused “loss of physical liberty and emotional distress.”

The six-count lawsuit spells out claims of unreasonable seizure, false arrest, and unreasonable search of person and vehicle. It notes there have been other individuals stopped by Suttles and Weber who allege similar conduct. It alleges Weber bragged he pulled 30 other cars over that same day.

Duvendack, in being named in the suit, is alleged to have “acted with deliberate indifference in maintaining, overlooking and preserving the unconstitutional practices, policies and customs” of the sheriff’s department.

The “John Does” in the suit represent unspecified plain-clothes police officers and Illinois State Police troopers that reportedly also arrived on scene.

Raney, Shackelford, and Hagen are represented by Meyer and Kiss Law Firm in Peoria.

We reached out to Randy Duvendack this afternoon. He said the county will contest the suit, but offered no further details, referring us to the law firm that’s representing the county, O’Halloran, Kosoff, Geitner and Cook of Northbrook. We were referred to a voicemail.