Thursday, November 21, 2002
Oak Creek U.S. Senior District Court Judge John Kane has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the town of Oak Creek, the Oak Creek Police Department and former police Sgt. Dave Miller.
Kane did give Eve VanElsacker a chance to correct what he said were errors in her lawsuit and re-file the claims.
VanElsacker could not be reached for comment, but Mayor Cargo Rodeman confirmed she had re-filed.
Miller arrested VanElsacker in July 2001 on charges of resisting arrest, second-degree assault and riding a horse while intoxicated. The arrest took place at the corner of Main Street and Moffat Avenue in Oak Creek.
Miller said VanElsacker refused his request for her to get off the horse and that she kicked him in the chest. Miller allegedly pulled her off her horse to arrest her, and the two struggled. Miller used pepper spray to restrain her.
VanElsacker sued Miller, the town and the police department, claiming false arrest and malicious prosecution. She also argued the town was negligent in its decision to hire Miller, who was once convicted of assault.
Kane dismissed the lawsuit Nov. 12 at the request of attorneys for the town and Miller. Kane said VanElsacker's claims against the town were not viable under state law.
"It is apparent (the) plaintiff's original complaint includes several pleading errors fatal to some or all of her claims," Kane wrote.
Kane gave her until Dec. 2 to re-file.
"The plaintiff hopes to salvage her claims against the town and its police department : of negligence in the hiring and supervision of defendant Miller," Kane wrote. "I will give the plaintiff a second opportunity to state viable claims against the town of Oak Creek and its police department and the individual defendant Miller."
VanElsacker's attorney was warned in the document not to bring frivolous charges before the court.
VanElsacker's arrest was a catalyst in Cargo Rodeman's political campaign to be elected mayor of Oak Creek. After the incident, a number of Oak Creek locals, led by Rodeman, formed a group called Citizen Down.
Members of the group, which met in the Veterans of Foreign Wars building, said they felt Miller had used excessive and unnecessary force in arresting VanElsacker. Many complained that such use of force among Oak Creek officers were all too common.
Rodeman ran for and was elected mayor last April on a platform that included reforming the town's police department.