Itascaattorney James Sotos, who is representing the sheriff’s office, issued a written statement late Thursday stating the county is “anxious to defend the false accusations and reckless cries of criminal prosecution, which have led to several death and other threats against (sheriff’s deputies) from people who do not know the true facts.”
Dana J. Holmes, 33, of Coal City, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Chicago alleging her civil rights were violated May 18 when she was arrested for DUI in Marseilles and then brought to La Salle County Jail.
There, she alleges, a female deputy and three male deputies placed her on the floor of a padded cell and removed her clothes. Holmes was later given a blanket, with which she covered herself during booking and fingerprinting.
The incident was video recorded and edited excerpts have been broadcast nationally.
However, Sotos stated in the release that the public record must be corrected for the following reasons:
n “Holmes was not strip-searched and left naked in a cell. She was placed in a padded cell so she would calm down after twice kicking a female officer. The video shows that less than one minute after Holmes’ street clothes were taken, a female officer promptly provided her a tear-proof safe suit and blanket for her own safety.”
n “Jail practice requires that inmates in padded cells be provided tear-proof safe suits in place of their street clothes for their own protection. Illinois and federal law fully support such policies given prevalence of inmates who try to harm themselves in jail facilities.”
n “Plaintiff was not ‘forcibly thrown to the ground’ causing injury to her face and body as the lawsuit alleges. The video shows she was taken to the ground in a controlled, but assertive manner, and suffered no injuries.”
n “Contrary to the lawsuit, uninvolved jail officers did not view the plaintiff naked on the video that the plaintiff released to the media. The video records the cell for the inmate’s protection, not so officers can gratuitously view a person’s nakedness, and the disgusting implication that they did so is false, baseless and insulting. If the padded cell did not have a camera, plaintiff would be arguing that the lack of a recording shows a cover-up of misconduct.”
n “Ms. Holmes’ attorney has told the media several other women have contacted him in response to the recent media blitz. This is unsurprising given the suggestion that substantial taxpayer money is available for the taking. But it is noteworthy that, until plaintiff’s recent media campaign, no one else ever filed a complaint or a lawsuit, or suggested they were mistreated. Even Ms Holmes never filed a complaint until she sued.”
n “The La Salle County Jail processes roughly 2,300 people every year, and well over 95 percent are processed without incident. On rare occasion arrestees refuse to cooperate with the booking process. When that occurs, they are placed in padded cells for their protection until they calm down and agree to cooperate. This usually doesn’t take very long, and almost always occurs by the time their bond money arrives. This practice fully complies withIllinois and federal law.”
Sotos concluded the statement stating that the officers targeted by Homes’ public relations campaign have excellent records and their reputations have been unfairly damaged.
“We look forward to restoring those reputations in court when the true facts surrounding this matter are revealed,” Sotos stated.
Kevin Caufield can be reached at (815) 220-6932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.