Saturday, May 22, 1999

Ex-officer files suit against village

Job loss blamed on actions in Arlington Hts.

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A former Lockland police officer has filed a federal lawsuit against the village of Arlington Heights, its police chief, its former police lieutenant and a current Lockland police officer for allegedly violating his constitutional rights.

        Mark Reiber, of Symmes Township, contends he was falsely arrested during an Aug. 2, 1997, incident by then-Arlington Heights Police Officer James Toles, who now is an officer with the Lockland Police.

        Mr. Reiber also accuses village officials of preventing him from filing a complaint against Officer Toles and that this incident deprived him of “the fundamental right to work and earn a living.” He is asking at least $2 million in damages.

        Mr. Reiber contends Officer Toles assaulted him and “arrested him without probable cause.” He said after the incident that Joe Harper, then an Arlington Heights police lieutenant, refused to take a complaint against Officer Toles.

        Lt. Harper retired from the department in January.

Probable cause?
        According to the lawsuit, Mr. Reiber and a friend went to the village fire department to speak with a firefighter who wanted to talk to them, but were told the firefighter was at his home.

        Mr. Reiber went to the firefighter's home but was told he wasn't there. As he left, the suit states, Mr. Reiber was approached by Officer Toles and another Arlington Heights police officer.

        The suit states that Officer Toles “elbowed” Mr. Reiber and prevented him from walking away until he answered several questions.

        Arlington Heights village attorney Terry Ladrigan would not comment on the lawsuit.

        However, Arlington Heights Police Chief Charles Huff said there was never any arrest and that there was probable cause to stop Mr. Reiber and question him because a “radio call” came in from someone warning police that Mr. Reiber might start trouble.

        Mr. Reiber, who was a Lockland police officer at the time, was fired a month after the incident.

        His suit also states that Officer Toles filed a written complaint against him with Lockland and falsely testified against him during Mr. Reiber's employment hearing.

        Mr. Reiber added that Officer Toles had applied to Lockland for a job and knew that if Mr. Reiber should be fired, he would probably be hired.

Termination appealed
        Mr. Reiber was fired from Lockland's police department Sept. 6, 1997, for reasons including conduct unbecoming to an officer, failure to obey orders given by a proper authority, and gross neglect of duty as a police officer.

        He appealed his firing to Lockland's village council, which upheld the decision.

        However, in October 1998, a Hamilton County magistrate overturned the village's decision and reduced it to a 60-day suspension without pay and ordered the village to rehire Mr. Reiber.

        Village Special Counsel Terrence M. Donnellon said Friday that the village has appealed the decision.

        Mr. Reiber has not been rehired.

        He has given information to the Hamilton County prosecutor's office which resulted in the April indictment of Lockland Police Chief Ken Johnson.

        The chief is accused of falsifying payroll documents to obtain overtime he had not worked. He has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of his June trial.

        Taking a cue from the many residents who have rallied in support of the chief, village council unanimously approved a resolution of support for the chief Tuesday.

        “It's what we wanted to do,” said Village Administrator Evonne Kovach.


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