DJ FILE - County Courthouse

Kankakee County Courthouse

KANKAKEE — A man claims in a recent lawsuit that two Kankakee police officers beat him up while investigating an alleged armed robbery.

The police suspended one of the officers as a result of the incident, but the punishment was mostly overturned. The officer’s lawyer said his client was the victim.

The man, Jose L. Murano, 34, was arrested at the time on felony charges of resisting officers and aggravated battery of an officer. A year later, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of resisting in exchange for the state dropping the other charges.

In court records, police said they have determined Murano was not involved in the armed robbery. The crime happened shortly after 8 p.m. Aug. 18, 2017, at Dollar General, 545 S. Washington Ave. It appears no one has been arrested in connection with the robbery.

Two months ago, Murano sued the city and officers Logan Andersen and Joe English in federal court.

Murano’s lawsuit said the officers were looking for a white man with clothing different from his. But the police filed a report indicating they were searching for a light-skinned man, either white or Hispanic, riding a bicycle, state court records indicate. Murano is Hispanic and reportedly was on a bicycle.

According to the documents, Murano, who speaks Spanish, was waiting to meet a friend after work when Andersen ordered Murano to speak with him. Murano was frightened by Andersen’s demeanor and attempted to ride away on his bike, but the officer grabbed him violently off the bike, the lawsuit said.

On the ground, Andersen struck Murano in the head with his gun, the lawsuit said. Murano was able to run away, and Andersen got on his radio to falsely claim that Murano had attacked him, it said.

A short while later, Andersen saw Murano running, hit him with his squad car and then tackled him, according to the lawsuit. The other officer, English, arrived and “violently” kicked Murano as he lay on the ground, the lawsuit said.

Andersen, a police detective, had no reason to believe Murano had violated any law and had no warrant, probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop him, the lawsuit said.

Murano was taken into custody and searched, but no contraband was found. He has no prior criminal record in Kankakee County, according to the local court’s database.

According to the city’s response to the lawsuit, Andersen was suspended for 10 days because of excessive use of force in the incident. In response, Andersen filed a grievance, and his suspension for excessive use of force was later overturned.

After the grievance process, the city ended up suspending Andersen for three days for failing to radio fellow officers as soon as possible while he was in a foot pursuit of Murano, which the city contended violated its policy, according to the city’s notice of suspension. It was the result of a settlement of the parties on July 31, 2018, the notice stated.

The city responded to the lawsuit by saying Murano had physically resisted and fought with Andersen, who feared for his safety. In the criminal case, police said Murano “wrestled and struggled” with an officer.

In an interview, Andersen’s attorney, Michael Condon, said his client, who was clearly marked as a police officer, tried to stop Murano because he was a suspect. Instead, Murano fled on his bike.

“Detective Andersen had to pursue him and ended up in a fight with him. Detective Andersen feared for his personal safety. (Murano) was on top of him, so Detective Andersen hit him with the butt of his gun,” Condon said. “Mr. Murano was biting his arm. Mr. Murano was beating him.”

Andersen received medical treatment afterward because of wounds to the face and the bite to the arm, Condon said.

“Mr. Murano didn’t have the right to take off,” Condon said.

As for the alleged failure to radio other officers, the attorney said, Andersen could not because he was in “an active fight” with Murano.

The lawsuit, filed by Peoria attorney Louis Meyer, claims Murano suffered physical pain, emotional distress and damages, including medical expenses, as a result of the incident.

Murano served 170 days in jail after his arrest, according to court records. His sentence was for time already served.

Murano, who is not a U.S. citizen, was warned in court that he was eligible for deportation. Local attorney Eric Davis is representing Murano in an immigration case, but declined to comment.

Meyer said the city violated policy by using a gun to hit someone.

“Even the department realized what (Andersen) did was improper and wrong,” Meyer said. “What the officers did here was outrageous.”

According to the police report, the robbery suspect pulled a black semiautomatic gun at a Dollar General clerk and demanded money. The clerk opened the register and gave the money. Two other employees were in a car while on break and noticed the suspect running from the store. They tried to confront the man, but he pointed a gun at them and fled on a bike, the report said.

Officer English and police Chief Frank Kosman, who took the helm last month, did not return messages for comment.

Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong referred questions to the city attorney, Mike McGrath, who said the city was unable to comment because the matter is subject to a pending investigation.

No trial date in Murano’s lawsuit has been set.

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