A Granite City man has filed a lawsuit against the Fairview Heights Police Department, alleging he was falsely arrested, detained, strip-searched and then released.
Delon Scruggs, 21, alleges in the suit filed Tuesday in St. Clair County that the arrest caused him to lose a football scholarship from a college he attended and be barred from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He was not a student at SIUE.
The suit names the city of Fairview Heights, Officer Robert Belba, Sgt. Jeff Peel and Chief Nick Gailius.
Gailius said Wednesday that he had not yet seen the suit and declined further comment.
Scruggs was a passenger in a car the evening of Oct. 16, 2011. Fairview Heights Police stopped the car, driven by Lamont D. McGraw Jr., at the corner of Ruby Lane and Long Acre Drive.
Officer Belba stated in his report attached to the suit that he smelled marijuana during the stop and spotted a leafy green substance on McGraw's clothes.
A subsequent search of the car revealed synthetic marijuana on McGraw and a gun under the passenger side front seat, the suit stated.
Eric Rhein, who filed the suit on behalf of Scruggs, stated that Fairview Heights officers then illegally extended the traffic stop with regards to the detention of Scruggs.
Fairview Heights Police Officers then learned that McGraw matched the physical description of an armed robbery suspect at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville earlier that day.
The victim of the armed robbery, a pizza delivery driver, only described one perpetrator of the crime. Scruggs did not match the victim's description of the suspect, the suit stated.
Under Illinois law, police are allowed to hold suspects up to 48 hours to conduct further investigation. Rhein stated in his suit that police knew within 24 hours that Scruggs was at a private tattoo parlor at the time of the robbery.
Despite having an alibi, Rhein contends that Scruggs was held for 48 hours and was strip searched.
"(Scruggs) was illegally jailed by all said defendants in a Fairview Heights Police Department hold over cell for two days," the suit stated. "He was innocent of any crime."
Scruggs, who now lives in Kentucky, is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.
Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2570.