Woman sues Madison County deputy who shot husband

News-DemocratJanuary 17, 2014 

An Edwardsville woman has sued the Madison County Sheriff's Department and Sgt. Bill Marconi after a call over a dispute between neighbors ended with her husband dead.

Barry Cloninger was shot several times on Jan. 4, 2013 when he, according to sheriff's department reports, approached Marconi while pointing a shotgun in the sergeant's direction.

Marconi reported that he fired after Cloninger refused his order to put the gun down because he felt that he was in imminent danger.

According to the lawsuit, Teri Cloninger claims Marconi created confusion that resulted in the fatal shooting by not identifying himself as a law enforcement officer.

"Officer Marconi went onto decedent's property and at no time did officer Marconi identify himself as a sheriff's department deputy to the decedent or anyone else on the property," the lawsuit states.

In March, Madison County State's attorney Tom Gibbons announced that an investigation by his office and the Illinois State Police determined the use of lethal force was justified in the shooting.

"It is abundantly clear to me that the officer acted reasonably in firing his weapon in this circumstance," Gibbons said at the time.

Sheriff Bob Hertz said Marconi had never before been involved in a shooting investigation. In March he said "It was unfortunate that it had to happen. I felt very confident that (Marconi) did what he had to do."

An autopsy of Cloninger's body revealed that he was legally intoxicated and that there was cocaine in his system at the time of his death. The investigation of the case also revealed that Marconi's shotgun was loaded during the confrontation.

The sheriff's department was called to the area of Cloninger's home in the 7100 block of Illinois 140 in rural Edwardsville by a neighbor who said he smelled charcoal lighter fluid in his home and accused Cloninger of pouring the flammable liquid down his chimney.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 239-2626.

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