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Local News

Family of dead Channahon dispatcher attempt to revive lawsuit alleging she did not kill herself

Will County investigators search through the apartment belonging to Samantha Harer on Feb. 13, 2018, after she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Channahon.
Will County investigators search through the apartment belonging to Samantha Harer on Feb. 13, 2018, after she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Channahon.

The parents of Samantha Harer, a Channahon woman found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in her apartment a little over a year ago, are trying to revive a lawsuit alleging her death actually was a homicide.

Last October, Heather and Kevin Harer sued Crest Hill police officer Felipe “Phil” Flores, who was dating their daughter and was the only other person in the apartment when their daughter died. The lawsuit also named the city of Crest Hill and the village of Channahon.

In December, the Will County Coroner’s Office announced that Harer’s death had been ruled a suicide. Paul Ciolino, a spokesman for the Harer family, said the parents were “extremely disappointed” with the ruling.

Ciolino said the lawsuit already had been dropped by that point. The attorney representing the parents at the time, Scott Kamin, was suspended from practicing law for three months the day after he filed the lawsuit on their behalf.

Jennifer Bonjean, the lawyer now representing the Harers, said they were in the dark about Kamin. A motion to dismiss was filed, but with Kamin suspended, he couldn’t communicate with the Harers, and they were unaware of the objection. They did not attend a Jan. 22 hearing, and the case was dismissed for want of prosecution.

Bonjean added that despite some amendments made to the original filing, the main allegation of the original lawsuit remains the same: that Flores caused Harer’s death.

“The facts tend to show she did not take her own life,” Bonjean said.

She added that there were a number of key pieces of information about gun residue and blood spatter that the Harers did not know about before their original lawsuit was filed.

In the motion, Bonjean said the Harers learned that Flores had blood spatter on the clothing he was wearing. That information had been withheld from the Harers and, Bonjean argued, was inconsistent with what Flores said to the 911 operator. When Flores called 911, the operator asked whether he wanted to perform CPR, but he responded, “She’s not breathing. I can see brain matter.”

Bonjean also said investigators had not told the Harers about the neighbor who had heard their daughter yelling “Let me go” before she died that morning. Law enforcement also did not tell the Harers about their daughter being found nude with unexplained injuries to her body that morning.

She said the motion has been filed, and she anticipates it being amended.

“What they really wanted was a transparent investigation, but they didn’t get that,” Bonjean said.

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