I reported on a story that occurred in Arlington Heights, Illinois, in which police showed up at 72-year-old Arthur Lovi’s home and confiscated several antique guns following a visit he made to a therapist. All of this was done in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Nearly three years after the incident, a jury has sided with Lovi and awarded him $80,000.
The Daily Herald reports:
Two Arlington Heights police officers have been found guilty of constitutional violations and ordered by a federal jury to pay a resident $80,000 in damages for illegally searching his home and seizing his guns.
On Thursday, the jury found Arlington Heights police Sgt. Charles Buczynski guilty of illegal entry into a home and unreasonable seizure of property for leading the charge into Lovi’s home. The jury ordered him to pay Lovi $45,000, Kiss said.
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The jury found Arlington Heights Cmdr. Richard Gausselin guilty of unreasonable seizure of person for coercing Lovi into the ambulance two days later, and ordered him to pay $25,000.
An additional $10,000 was awarded to Lovi to pay his medical bills and to fix damage done to his antique guns during their seizure, Kiss said.
Three other officers named in the suit were not found guilty.
“We’re very happy to see that the jury saw through the scare tactics of the police and their lawyers and saw this exactly for what it was: a warrantless entry and seizure of his weapons with absolutely no legal basis,” said Lovi’s attorney Dan Kiss.
Here’s how things transpired in August of 2012 when the incident happened.
Lovi had been an Air Force crash rescue helicopter pilot in the 1960’s and had already seen a Veterans Administration (VA) psychiatrist once a month. However, he had been experiencing a lot of difficulty in recent years.
“I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders,” he said.
The Daily Herald reports on how his visit to see the therapist:
Lovi told her about the loss that had been all around him the past few years: his mother, a 3-year-old granddaughter who drowned, a son-in-law lost to a drug overdose, and worst of all, his wife of 33 years.
Cindy had died nine years ago, but to Lovi it was still raw. She was always tired and bruised easily. When he finally persuaded her to get checked out, she was told she had a cold, probably caught from one of her students at Forest View Alternative Center.
Unsatisfied, the next day Lovi made her see another doctor who gave her the correct, but heartbreaking, diagnosis: leukemia. Cindy died a few weeks later. She was 53.
Lovi told the therapist about Cindy’s death and his bitterness over the incorrect diagnosis.
Lovi admitted that if he ever saw the doctor that treated his wife, he would “beat him up,” but emphasized that he would not seek him out to assault him.
Following the session, which took place on August 30, 2012, Lovi’s therapist claims that she was concerned. She informed the Arlington Heights police that Lovi had made a threat against the first doctor who saw his wife.
She told them she didn’t think he would carry it out or that he was dangerous to himself or others, but she just wanted to do her job and report it.
In other words, by her own admission, she didn’t consider him a threat in any way, but she was “just doing her job” by reporting him.
Lovi filed the lawsuit he won and according to that lawsuit, here’s what he said transpired:
Shortly after the phone call, an Arlington Heights police officer that had worked with Lovi’s late wife at Forest View High School arrived at Lovi’s home. Two other officers also arrived at Lovi’s home.
The lawsuit claims police officers asked Lovi questions about his wife. Lovi became upset and told police officers that he did not want to talk about his wife. The police officers radioed for an ambulance to the scene.
The officers told Lovi that he needed to get in the ambulance and go to the hospital. Lovi told police that he did not want to go to the hospital.
The officers told Lovi that if he did not go into the ambulance willingly, they would handcuff him and physically put him in the ambulance. Lovi was transported to Northwest Community Hospital, where he was evaluated and it was determined that he did not need to be committed as there were no signs that he would be a harm to himself or others. Lovi was released from the hospital the same day.
It took him two months and several attempts to get his firearms back, one of them was damaged and had to be repaired.
The attorney representing the officers said they would challenge the jury’s verdict, claiming that the officers “acted professionally to protect the public’s safety’ and that they actions were appropriate “pursuant to protocol.”
Yes, but they were inappropriate according to law, and that is the real issue.
Interestingly enough, Lovi’s attorney made an attempt to settle with the officers for a lot less than $80,000.
“It’s important that the public know the police don’t have a right to come in your house without a warrant. They don’t have a right to bully you,” Lovi said.
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