PEORIA — A 54-year-old Chillicothe man alleges in a federal lawsuit that an Illinois Secretary of State Police officer used excessive force when arresting him last summer and then lied about it.
The man, Thomas Nibbelin, claims he suffered a broken arm and a traumatic brain injury as a result of Jack Baskett's actions on Aug. 7, 2018, while Nibbelin was trying to renew his driver's license at the Secretary of State facility on North Sterling Avenue in Peoria. The suit was filed late Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Peoria and named Baskett individually. That means he's not being sued in his official capacity as a police officer, but only as a person.
Nibbelin's attorney, Andrew M. Stroth of Chicago, said a surveillance video from the facility shows that his client was grabbed by Baskett and taken to the ground, leading to his injuries.
"As the video clearly shows, Officer Baskett used excessive and unreasonable force against Thomas Nibbelin. As a result of these actions, Thomas suffered a broken arm and a traumatic brain injury. To make matters worse, Officer Baskett, an Illinois Secretary of State Police, filed a false police report and lied about the incident. Mr. Nibbelin wants the officer held liable for his unjustified actions and will pursue monetary damages for his injuries," the attorney said in an emailed statement.
An attempt to find a phone number for Baskett wasn't successful Thursday. An emailed request to officials from the Secretary of State's Office for a comment also wasn't immediately returned.
The suit seeks unspecified damages. The nine-page suit also has claims for malicious prosecution, unreasonable detention and excessive force.
In a criminal case that followed the incident, Nibbelin was arrested and charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest and criminal trespass. A jury acquitted Nibbelin in March of resisting but found him guilty of the criminal trespass charge.
William Loeffel was Nibbelin's attorney for the criminal charges. He said he recalled from testimony at the one-day trial in Peoria County Circuit Court that Baskett said he believed Nibbelin was reaching for his arm and then put him into an arm bar and then took him down as a way to protect the public at large.
The surveillance video footage of the incident shows Nibbelin at the counter for a long time, approximately 30 minutes. There's no sound, so it's not clear from the video what he was saying, but it appears he's frustrated with something and it appears that employees are telling him something he doesn't like. The suit says Nibbelin was "having trouble pulling up a bank statement on his phone, a document that facility employees had told him was necessary for proof of address." He is seen pointing his finger at a woman, but he isn't seen getting violent.
Baskett is seen approaching Nibbelin. The two men appear to have an exchange of words and within 20 seconds, Baskett takes Nibbelin to the ground. The video appears to show Baskett putting his hands on Nibbelin's documents and then Nibbelin moving his hands toward the officer's hand. Two second later, Baskett puts his arm around Nibbelin's neck and takes him to the ground. A minute or so later, the two stand up, Nibbelin in handcuffs, and they walk off screen.
Prior to that, the suit alleges, Baskett did not "issue (Nibbelin) any warnings about using force or physically removing Plaintiff from the facility."