September 10, 2016
PEORIA — A Dec. 12 trial date has been set in a federal lawsuit filed by the former supervisor of the Bloomington Police Department's evidence room who claims she was fired after she complained to administrators about how evidence was handled.
Amy Ward filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in 2013 against the city, former Police Chief Randy McKinley, former Assistant Chief Bob Siron, and police Lts. Bob Wall and Tim Stanesa.
In an Aug. 31 ruling, Judge Michael Mihm dismissed McKinley and Siron from the lawsuit because Ward's lawyer Dawn Wall failed to properly serve the two with notice of the lawsuit.
McKinley, currently the police chief of St. Charles, Mo., and Siron, the current director of Mobile Training Unit 8, a state law enforcement training program for Central Illinois, are expected to be called as witnesses at the trial.
The jury will hear evidence related to Ward's claim that she was disciplined by McKinley after she raised concerns about how guns, drugs and other items were stored and who had access to the evidence room.
Disputes with Siron and Stanesa over the evidence room resulted in several suspensions for Ward ahead of her termination in June 2011, according to the lawsuit.In his deposition, McKinley contends Ward's dismissal followed multiple incidents of subordination. The former chief said he asked the Illinois State Police to investigate Ward's accusations, but the agency declined.McKinley admits in his statement that he disciplined Ward in May 2011 for inquiring about the investigation with state police.
In her deposition, Ward described the evidence room she took over in 2009 as "more than sloppy" and "a nightmare." In its court filing, the city alleged Ward was upset because she was not considered for a new records manager position.
Ward has argued that her right to free speech and protection under the state Whistleblower Act were violated by the city.Mihm denied a motion by the city to bar Ward's attorney from presenting evidence of discipline imposed against Ward and other sworn officers.
Mihm said he will make a final determination on whether such material is admissible after he hears more specific details of the defense evidence.
Ward is asking to be returned to her job or be paid her wages plus damages.
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