The married couple mistakenly arrested in connection with the Feb. 26, 2020 attempted robbery of an Oak Park US Bank branch have filed a federal lawsuit against the village of Oak Park and five police officers. The complaint states that the officers used excessive force to unlawfully detain the husband and wife, both of whom are Black senior citizens. The couple, Ottis and Dimitri Dugar, are seeking a “reasonable amount” in compensatory damages and a jury trial.
“The Plaintiffs were taken into custody at gunpoint, seized, and handcuffed because
they were Black,” the complaint reads.
The lawsuit was filed one day before the two-year anniversary of the incident. Along with the village of Oak Park, the lawsuit names police officers Ronald Foytek, Daniel Silva, Brian Kaniecki and Jonathan Lemmenes as individual defendants. An unnamed fifth officer is also listed as an individual defendant under the moniker “P.O. Jane Doe.” Wednesday Journal has reached out to the village of Oak Park for comment.
According to the complaint, the Dugars were driving home when they were stopped at gunpoint by “one or more” of the defendant officers and taken into custody on Feb. 26, 2020. The couple had previously conducted transactions at US Bank, 6011 W. North Ave., their regular bank, where an attempted armed robbery had taken place at 11:27 a.m. that morning.
The complaint argues that guns were drawn on the couple despite no evidence to suggest they were dangerous or armed. Dimitri Dugar was reportedly tightly handcuffed and squeezed into the back of a police vehicle. Ottis and Demitri Dugar are in their 80s and 60s, respectively.
“This should not have happened,” Gregory Kulis, the couple’s attorney, told Wednesday Journal.
Police reports from the incident stated a man entered the branch, told employees he was armed and demanded money, then fled the scene empty-handed. The offender was described as Black, between 30 and 40 years old and about 5 feet, 5 inches tall.
“The Defendants never questioned the stop, arrest, and detention despite the obvious
non-match to the alleged perpetrator and held the Plaintiffs in handcuffs despite clear evidence they were not involved in any robbery or crime,” the complaint reads.
The complaint accuses the officers of acting with malice by detaining the married couple, who “feared for their lives and safety.” It also states that the officers were operating in accordance with the customs and policies of the Oak Park Police Department and that their actions had violated the Dugars’ constitutional rights under the 4th and 14th amendments.
The husband and wife also experienced emotional anxiety, fear, humiliation, monetary expenses, monetary loss, pain and suffering, and future emotional and psychological fear as a result of the incident, according to the complaint.
“Nobody even reached out to apologize for the way they were treated,” said Kulis.
A previous lawsuit was filed by the Dugars against US Bank last June through the Cook County Circuit Court. That lawsuit alleges two bank employees falsely reported to the police that the Dugars were involved in the attempted armed robbery, knowing full well that doing so would lead to the couple’s arrest and seizure. The case was removed to federal court in July 2021.
US Bank filed to dismiss the case on Feb. 1, 2022, arguing that the “facts and conclusions alleged in the complaint do not represent any legally recognizable claim,” despite the complaint having been amended twice. The Dugars filed in opposition to the motion March 3.