Village of Hampton responds to EIU student's lawsuit

Published: Feb. 17, 2020 at 8:56 AM CST
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The attorney for the Village of Hampton has responded to a civil lawsuit filed by an

against several Rock Island County law enforcement agencies.

According to the statement by attorney Dominick Lanzito:

“Jaylen Butler has brought a civil rights lawsuit against Hampton Police Officer Ethan Bush. Ordinarily, we do not believe it is appropriate to litigate matters in the press, but recently the Village has received email communication that leads the Village to believe the safety of the Village’s officers and staff may be at risk. The inappropriate and threatening communication is based upon the omissions in Mr. Butler’s lawsuit, namely that the officers were in pursuit of an active shooter in the immediate vicinity of where the police encountered Mr. Butler.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a suit against Ethan Bush and other officers and in doing so failed to acknowledge that the officers were in pursuit of a shooting suspect who crashed his vehicle on Interstate 80, during a police pursuit and who then led the police on a foot pursuit following the automobile crash. The media covered this event and residents were notified to stay in their homes and to keep their doors locked via social media. The context and circumstances that resulted in the police encounter with Mr. Butler were omitted from the allegations in his lawsuit, which has misled the public to believe that the police simply detained Mr. Butler because of his race. The pursuit of an armed perpetrator in close proximity was reported by many news outlets, is a matter of public record and was the reason that the police had contact with Mr. Butler.

Given the fact that there is pending litigation, the Village cannot comment further on the allegations, but the public should know all of the circumstances before concluding that the police detained Mr. Butler because of his race. The Village is confident that the facts will prove that the actions of Officer Bush and the officers from other responding law enforcement agencies were appropriate, were in conformance with the law, the Constitution, and were taken in order to apprehend an armed and dangerous suspect.”

The civil lawsuit was filed in the Central District of Illinois by the ACLU on behalf of Butler, who is the only African American member of the Eastern Illinois University swim team.

The suit also names officers from the East Moline Police Department and the Rock Island County Sheriff's Office.