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Eastern Illinois Swimmer Sues for Unlawful Arrest, Excessive Force

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Feb. 13, 2020

Eastern Illinois swimmer Jaylan Butler is suing six police officers over an incident last February in which he was arrested at gun point and detained on the trip back from a swim meet.
The incident stems from the team’s trip to the Summit League Championships in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. On the bus ride back Feb. 24, 2019, Butler and several teammates got off the charter bus in East Moline, Illinois, to stretch their legs. Moments after posing for a picture with teammates, several police cars pulled up, yelling at Butler, the only black swimmer on the team, to get on the ground with guns drawn.
One officer, according to court documents provided by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Illinois chapter, placed his gun to Butler’s head and said, “If you keep moving, I’m going to blow your [expletive] head off.” Butler was searched, handcuffed and detained in the back of a police car. He was released from custody after being allowed to return to the bus to provide identification.
“Mr. Butler was traumatized by this incident,” the ACLU’s filing says. “Since the event, he has felt angry, scared, and depressed. He has had trouble concentrating at school and participating in activities. In class the next day, Mr. Butler found himself staring down at the bruises around his wrists, replaying the previous night’s events in his head until finally he realized his class had ended and he was the only person still sitting there.”
The ACLU is alleging a violation of Butler’s constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure, false arrest, excessive detention and excessive force, according to the Fourth Amendment, as well as various Illinois state statutes.
“What happened to Jaylan is an example of the harmful police interactions that people of color experience far too often, but which receive much less attention,” said ALCU of Illinois staff attorney Rachel Murphy in a press release . “These officers forcibly arrested and searched Jaylan without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or any other lawful justification. They never told Jaylan why he was being arrested, even after they realized their mistake. Instead, it’s clear they based their decision to arrest and harm Jaylan on the fact that he was a young Black man.”
Butler is a sophomore butterflier for the Panthers . The native of St. Louis is majoring in biological sciences.
The suit is against officers from the Hampton Police Department, the East Moline Police Department and the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office.
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