Lake Station woman, M'ville reach settlement in federal lawsuit

2013-04-02T17:45:00Z 2013-04-02T18:24:47Z Lake Station woman, M'ville reach settlement in federal lawsuitTimes Staff nwitimes.com
April 02, 2013 5:45 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Merrillville officials have agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a Lake Station woman who claims she was wrongly arrested in May 2010, federal court records filed Tuesday show.

Colleen Conn Wood, 58, sued the town, Police Department and three officers in May, arguing they violated her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, used excessive force and wrongly arrested her, according to the complaint. Conn Wood said she was humiliated as a result of her "illegal arrest and detention."

Conn Wood said the problem began when she called the Merrillville Police Department on May 18, 2010, to report an incident involving the daughter of her tenant, court records state. Conn Wood wanted the woman removed from her property.

Conn Wood said the police officers who arrived appeared to know and be friendly with the woman.

About 45 minutes after the woman and police left, the officers returned and said Conn Wood had violated a town ordinance relating to cut tree limbs on her property, court records state. Conn Wood said she told officers she would remove them as soon as she was done cutting them.

At that point, Conn Wood claims the officers grabbed her, shoved her onto the hood of her truck, handcuffed her and pushed her into a squad car, court records state. She said one officer whispered, "This is the way we play games in the town of Merrillville."

Conn Wood was arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of resisting law enforcement and disorderly conduct, Lake Superior Court records show. The charges were dismissed in 2012.

Attorney David Masse, who represented Conn Wood in the federal lawsuit, said he cannot reveal details of the settlement. He said it did not include any admission of guilt by town officials or their employees.

"We're happy with the settlement," Masse said.

Attorney Amanda Hillmann, who represented the town and police officers, did not return a call seeking comment on the settlement.

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