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Local News

U.S. Supreme Court takes case accusing Joliet police of malicious prosecution

JOLIET – The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider the case of a man who wants to sue the city of Joliet and several police officers for what he alleges was malicious prosecution after he contends he was wrongly arrested on charges that were later dismissed.

Elijah Manuel's attempt to file a federal lawsuit against Joliet was denied after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago ruled that the case could not be heard in federal court. Manuel had missed a two-year statute of limitations to file in state court.

Manuel, a Joliet resident now serving prison time on separate charges, contends that Joliet police falsified a drug test and wrongfully arrested him in March 2011 on a possession of controlled substance charge.

He also says he was arraigned even after a lab report showed the pills were not Ecstasy, as police claimed, but were vitamins; and that he was kept in jail for another month before the Will County State's Attorney's Office sought dismissal of the charges.

Manuel, who is black, also made several civil rights claims, including that he was subject to excessive force, unreasonable search and seizure, and unreasonable detention, according to court documents.

The Supreme Court in taking the case noted that the Seventh Circuit does not allow malicious prosecution claims to be filed in federal court. The case could be argued in either April or October.

Manuel's attorney, Stanley Eisenhammer, said Wednesday that his client "had the misfortune of being arrested in Joliet where the Seventh Circuit has jurisdiction. If he had been arrested in Ohio or Texas, he would have been able to bring this case to federal court."

According to the Seventh Circuit decision made Dec. 28, Manuel alleges that on March 18, 2011, "he was a passenger in his car being driven by his brother when they were stopped for failing to signal.

"A police officer detected an odor of burnt cannabis from inside the car. Without warning, the officer flung open the passenger's door and dragged Manuel out. The officer pushed Manuel to the ground, handcuffed him, and then punched and kicked him."

A bottle of pills was then found on Manuel. Police tested the pills on the scene, and Manuel was arrested. Manuel in his complaint said the pills were vitamins.

Joliet City Attorney Marty Shanahan declined to comment on the case since it is pending.

The Illinois Department of Corrections website lists Manuel as serving a 17-year sentence at Pinckneyville Correctional Center on convictions from three different cases for home invasion, armed robbery and aggravated driving under the influence.

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