Mom accused of leaving child in car files suit

March 20, 2008 3:53:12 PM PDT
Treffly Coyne insists she just wants an apology from the Crestwood police. But since that hasn't happened, she's now suing over accusations she left her child alone in the family vehicle.Her case was eventually dropped when prosecutors admitted they couldn't prove the charges

Coyne was surrounded by her family Thursday as she told reporters that her entire family was affected by the experience.

Coyne and her husband say they made the decision to sue after the Crestwood police chief told reporters he was disappointed the criminal charges against Coyne were dropped.

The federal lawsuit accuses Crestwood police officers of false arrest and malicious prosecution.

This is a case that sparked a huge Internet debate, where Coyne says she was labeled a child abuser.

It was an incident that Coyne says tore her family apart even though criminal charges against the Tinley Park mom were dropped after she left her sleeping 2-year-old in a parked car. Coyne says that is still not enough to gain a sense of closure. Coyne and her family are hoping a lawsuit against Crestwood police will do just that.

"It would be great if they would just come forward and apologize to my kids. They were scared to death," Coyne said.

Back in December, Coyne took her three daughters to the Crestwood Wal-Mart to donate about $8 the girls had collected for Salvation Army. Coyne parked her Volvo station wagon at the curb, shut off the engine, locked the doors and activated the alarm. Coyne says she walked 30 feet with her older daughters to put money in the kettle. Two-year-old Phoebe was sleeping in the car. Coyne says she never took her eyes off the car.

"At no point was Phoebe in danger, not even for a moment. Had police officers asked what was happening we would not be here today," said attorney Blake Horwitz.

Coyne's attorney says it was actually Crestwood police that put Coyne's children in danger by arresting the mother and then leaving her 8- and 9-year-old daughters in the Wal-Mart.

"When we were in there we were just sitting there forever. There was nobody but one of these employees that stood by the door. She was the only one who was watching us," said daughter Sierra Janecyk, 9.

Sierra and Haley Janecyk say the incident has changed their impression of police officers.

"I used to think they all helped, but now i know that not all police officers are good," Sierra said.

The lawsuit against the village of Crestwood and police officers is for an unspecified amount. However, Coyne and her husband say the suit is not about money. They hope it will force Crestwood police to change the way they do business.

Crestwood police directed all comments concerning the lawsuit to the mayor. He did not return phone calls.

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