The American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois brought the case before the US Central District Court of Illinois on behalf of Jaylan Butler, the first and only black swimmer of Eastern Illinois University
An African-American swimmer from Eastern Illinois University is suing local law enforcement officials who allegedly arrested him for enjoying a short break on the team bus because they believed he was a suspect who held the team hostage.
The American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois has the business suit in the American District Court for the Central District of Illinois on behalf of Jaylan Butler, the first and only black swimmer of Eastern Illinois University.
Named as defendants in the case are: East Moline Police Officer Travis Staes, Hampton Police Officer Ethan Bush, Rock Island County Sheriff’s deputies Jack Asquini and Jason Pena and two unnamed officers.
On February 24 of last year, Butler and his teammates returned to their Charleston campus after taking part in the Summit League Swimming and Diving Championships in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The school charter bus they were driving at, stopped at around 8 p.m. on a stop on Interstate 80 near East Moline, Illinois. Butler and a number of students got off the bus to stretch their legs.
On February 24 of last year, Butler and his teammates returned to their Charleston campus with a school charter bus. Officers arrested the student when he returned to the bus after taking a photo of a traffic sign
One of the team coaches suggested that Butler would take a picture of a road sign with ‘Buckle Up’. It is the law, so that he could place it on the social media account of the team.
Butler posed in a photo with the sign and started walking back to the bus when officers arrived on the scene, the trial says.
The suit states that Staes and Bush were in one vehicle, while the other officers arrived in different others.
It is said that Butler immediately recognized the seriousness of the situation – raising his hands as he fell to his knees and dropped his cell phone.
East Moline police officer Travis Staes is mentioned in the lawsuit and allegedly warned authorities that they had eventually received the wrong suspect
Rock Island County Sheriff Deputy Jason Pena was also named as one of the officers in the lawsuit
Rock Island County Sheriff Deputy Jack Asquini is also named as one of the defendants by the ACLU. The department sheriff said the allegations for both delegates are “without merit.”
“My father taught me at a young age what to do if you are stopped by police officers – stop immediately, raise your hands, drop everything you hold and fall to your knees,” Butler said in a release of the ACLU. “I hoped I should never use this advice in my life, but it all changed in seconds.”
The student and the witnesses noted that several officers had guns, one of which even held a gun.
The officers laid Butler down in the snowy ground, and several held him while Bush handcuffed him, according to the suit.
“My father taught me at a young age what to do if you are stopped by police officers – stop immediately, raise your hands, drop everything you hold and fall to your knees,” Butler said in a release of the ACLU. “I hoped I should never use this advice in my life, but it all changed in seconds”
Butler noted that one officer had his knee in his back while the other pressed on his neck.
The lawsuit states that another officer, who was sitting before Butler with his gun to the swimmer’s forehead, reportedly said to him: “If you keep moving, I will blow your head off.”
The charter bus driver – identified as naval veteran Todd Slingerland – would have asked why the officers why they detained Butler. Butler’s coach also came for the swimmer’s defense.
“The only officer told Jaylan they’d arrest him for resisting, but how could they arrest him for something he hadn’t done?” Slingerland explained to the Moline shipment after the submission of the pack. It has been reported that a shooter shot at a truck in the area.
Slingerland continued: ‘Their excuse (for taking Butler into custody) was that they thought the bus was being taken hostage.
“I had all the lights on, so the bus was lit. The bus had EIU on the side and Jaylan was wearing an EIU jacket. I told them to get the sheriff there because this was a very big mistake.
“They said the sheriff was busy with an event with active shooters.”
Slingerland also confirmed that officers had created the threat to Butler to shoot him.
Staes warned the local dispatch that it was a false alarm, the suit says. Officers kept Butler fascinated in the snow for a few minutes.
They then claimed that Butler had resisted the arrest and then brought him to a squadron car, where he was knocked down and searched before he was in it.
Butler stayed in the car for a few minutes until the officers pulled out his handcuffs and asked him to identify him.
“Mr. Butler informed at least two defendants that he wanted to file a complaint. The first suspect ignored him, “is the suit. “The second defendant said:” I can do nothing. “Neither of the defendants gave Mr. Butler names of defendants, badge numbers, law enforcement agencies or other information to make a complaint. “
Butler (center) is depicted with the Eastern Illinois University swimming team. Everyone on the bus was shocked by the ordeal until he again confirmed that he was doing well
The lawsuit also states that none of the officers have documented the stop and search, a requirement under state law. They also failed to give Butler a receipt for the search, also a law in Illinois.
After the incident, Butler and his team struggled with their heads around what had happened. Butler finally told his team that he was doing well, but that wasn’t really the case.
“I was scared and depressed. I remember being in class the next day looking at the bruises on my wrists and playing the events of that night again, “Butler said. “If I see a police officer now, I don’t feel safe — I’m scared and anxious.”
Butler has seen a therapist and the ACLU lawsuit notes that he has suffered emotional distress as a result of the false arrest.
The swimmer is represented by lawyers at the ACLU of Illinois and Sidley Austin LLP.
‘What happened to Jaylan is an example of the harmful police interactions that people of color experience far too often, but who receive far less attention. These officers arrested and searched Jaylan without reasonable suspicion, probable cause or any other legitimate justification. They never told Jaylan why he was arrested even after they realized their mistake. Instead it is clear that they based their decision to arrest and damage Jaylan on the fact that he was a young black man, “said Rachel Murphy, staff officer of ACLU from Illinois.
Sheriff Gerry Bustos of Rock Island County has released a statement in which he and the office “did not know that an incident or use of force had occurred”
Sherry Gerry Bustos of Rock Island County has released a statement in which he and the office “didn’t know there was an incident or use of force.”
“After receiving the trial, a preliminary finding of facts was made, which established that Pena and Asquini delegates arrived after Butler was already detained by officers from other agencies, who had only brief interaction with Mr. Butler and the other officers, left shortly thereafter for the manhunt continue for a fugitive in the area that was working.
“At the moment I am convinced that the allegations against Members Pena and Asquini are unfounded.”
Governor JB Pritzker from Illinois has issued a statement on Facebook in which the actions shown by officers are called “unacceptable.”
“I’m deeply concerned about what I’ve read about how Jaylan Butler, an African-American athlete at EIU, was abused by the police in East Moline,” he said.
“It is unacceptable for young people to feel unsafe and disrespected everywhere in this state – but too many young people with color live through it every day.
“I urge a thorough and transparent investigation into what has taken place.”
Governor JB Pritzker from Illinois has issued a statement on Facebook in which the actions shown by officers are called “unacceptable”