FOX LAKE, Ill. (WLS) --A lawsuit against the Fox Lake police lieutenant who took his own life will be heard in court for the first time Tuesday. A 26-year-old man claims he was targeted and harassed by Lt. Joe Gliniewicz because he's black.
Vernon Randolph lives in North Chicago. But he would visit Fox Lake often to see his daughter, who lives there with her mother.
He said the harassment began about a year before Gliniewicz's death on Sept. 1, 2015. The lieutenant pulled Randolph over in a Fox Lake subdivision, ordered him out of the car and searched it, demanding to know where Randolph was hiding drugs.
As Randolph recalled in an earlier interview with ABC7 Eyewitness News, Gliniewicz was in plain clothes and he was verbally abusive.
"I let him know I'm not affiliated with drugs or anything of that sort. So he tells me, his exact words were, 'Make something happen before I make something happen to you,'" Randolph said.
Randolph said the harassment continued. Lawyers said Gliniewicz followed Randolph around, pointing to his eyes as if to say, "I'm watching you." They said Gliniewicz would stop their client at gas stations in Fox Lake and at the bus stop where Randolph waited for the school bus with his daughter. Randolph would often be seen with two white men, also waiting with their children.
Then on Sept. 1, Gliniewicz radioed in to the department, claiming he was following three suspicious men: one black and two white. When Gliniewicz was found shot to death, the feds came knocking.
Lawyers said authorities obtained a DNA swab from Randolph, who was cleared of any wrongdoing when the medical examiner ruled the officer's death was a suicide.
Randolph said in a town where black men make up less than one percent of residents, he felt he had a target on his back.
Randolph's attorneys said he is hospitalized for anxiety, after the harassment and intimidation he suffered at the hands of Fox Lake police officers. The lawsuit names Gliniewicz and the village of Fox Lake.