Genoa man sues police for excessive force

Published: Friday, July 19, 2013 2:41 p.m.CDT • Updated: Friday, July 19, 2013 11:28 p.m.CDT

GENOA – After a jury acquitted him this week of domestic battery and assaulting a police officer, a 41-year-old Genoa man is pursuing an excessive force lawsuit against Genoa police.

Charles Cravatta, of the 100 block of North State Road, alleges Genoa police officer Ed Lopez inappropriately punched him twice in the face and kneed him in the thigh about 12:30 a.m. July 23, 2011.

Weeks later, Cravatta was flown to a Chicago hospital with a blood clot in his head that he says is related to the punches Lopez delivered, Cravatta’s attorney Nicholas Cronauer said.

Cravatta’s lawsuit also faults Genoa officials for hiring Lopez after he was suspended for 30 days from the Hanover Park Police Department for a similar incident involving a 17-year-old. Alison Harrington, a Naperville attorney representing Lopez and Genoa officials, said the 30-day suspension happened more than a decade ago. She denies Genoa officials made a bad hire.

Lopez remains a full-time officer in Hanover Park and a part-time Genoa police officer, Harrington said. She said Lopez was acting within his discretion as a police officer and had probable cause to arrest Cravatta.

The legal issues in the civil lawsuit are separate from the legal issues in the criminal case, she said.

“The issue of liability will certainly be strongly contested,” Harrington said. “From our standpoint, we believe that the officers involved acted appropriately in the circumstances involved.”

The early morning incident started with an anonymous 911 call about a domestic disturbance from the Mobil gas station near Washington and Main streets in Genoa, according to Cravatta’s federal lawsuit. Cravatta was trying to get his son-in-law, Marco Mariazzi, back to Cravatta’s house. Mariazzi was intoxicated at the time, Cronauer said. Police suspected Cravatta of pushing Mariazzi to the ground and choking him.

Before Cravatta was arrested, he refused to answer Lopez’s questions and turned his back on the officer, who told him “not to walk away while we are investigating this incident,” according to Cravatta’s lawsuit. Lopez then walked toward Cravatta, grabbed him by the right arm and spun him around.

As Cravatta was spinning around, Lopez and three other Genoa police officers said Cravatta raised his arms in an aggressive matter, Cronauer said. Lopez then punched Cravatta twice in the face, which pushed Cravatta’s head into a brick wall and caused him to fall to the ground, according to Cravatta’s lawsuit.

Lopez then picked Cravatta up, placed him against the squad car and kneed him in the thigh while handcuffing him, according to Cravatta’s lawsuit. Genoa police officers denied Lopez kneed Cravatta during the criminal trial this week, Cronauer said.

Jurors found Cravatta not guilty of domestic battery and aggravated assault after a two-day trial in DeKalb County court.

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