The Beacon News

No Evidence: Lawsuit claims civil rights violated by unjustified arrest

Mike Cetera

AURORA An Aurora man has sued the city and its police department s top DUI cop, alleging his civil rights were violated when he was jailed two years ago for drunken driving after passing a field sobriety test.

Authorities later dropped charges against Brian L. Nilles, 36, whose blood alcohol level registered less than one-third the legal limit, according to the lawsuit filed in Kane County Circuit Court.
The City of Aurora and officer David Schmidt violated Nilles right by charging him with drunken driving, forcing him to submit blood and urine samples and conducting an illegal search of his car after an April 24, 2001, traffic stop, the lawsuit states. Nilles seeks more than $50,000 in damages.

Schmidt stopped Nilles for speeding and failing to obey two stop signs, court records show. Nilles, a truck driver, was heading to work shortly after 6 a.m., when he was pulled over at Downer Place and Lancaster Avenue, his attorney said.

Schmidt is the police department s most prolific enforcer of drunken driving laws, recording 130 arrests in 2001, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, which recently honored him. But Schmidt s arrests protocol has been questioned before, and a drunken driving arrest he made of a fellow police officer was dropped because a judge ruled he lacked probable cause.

According to the lawsuit, Schmidt claimed Nilles failed all of the sobriety tests, even after another officer on the scene told Schmidt he believed the man had passed a walk-and-turn test.

The response was, I know, but I think this guy s on drugs, David Camic, Nilles attorney, said.

A breath test later showed Nilles had a blood alcohol level of .024, well below the .08 legal limit. No drugs were found in his system.

Schmidt, continued to abuse the arrest process by telling Nilles he was required to submit to blood and urine samples, according to the lawsuit. An analysis of the blood sample taken after the arrest showed Nilles blood alcohol level was .013, court records show.

Police spokesman Dan Ferrelli referred comment to Aurora Corporation Counsel Patricia Supergan, who could not be reached Tuesday.

Camic said that, if the case goes to trial, he would introduce evidence of at least three occasions when Schmidt lacked probable cause in making drunken driving arrests.

Camic also represented Aurora police Officer Ronald Hinterlong, whom Schmidt arrested on a drunken driving charge on April 28, 2001, four days after Nilles s arrest. The charge later was dropped.

Hinterlong testified that he believed Schmidt was harassing him because he named the officer in the department s probe into racial profiling among its patrol officers. Hinterlong, further said that his brother, Aurora police Sgt. Tom Hinterlong, and Schmidt did not get along.

Schmidt denied targeting Hinterlong.