FOX LAKE, Ill. (WLS) --The death of Fox Lake Police Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz led to one of the most intense police manhunts in Chicago-area history. Now a lawsuit claims dozens of innocent bystanders were arrested, even though investigators suspected Gliniewicz had committed suicide.
When the cop known as "G.I. Joe" lay dead in a field, an illegal dragnet followed according to several men who said police took them off the street without cause, handcuffed them and kept them in custody for hours. A federal lawsuit filed late Thursday in Chicago claims numerous police agencies and officers violated their Constitutional rights. And according to the lawsuit, dozens and dozens of others were also detained without cause.
"I was riding down the bike path, my usual, to get coffee in the morning, and the police kind of just swarmed me," said Raymond Willoughby, detained in manhunt.
The morning of Sept. 1, 2015, Willoughby said he had no idea Joe Gliniewicz was dead of gunshot wounds in a field a mile and a half away from him.
"They just grabbed me and threw me against the fence. They searched me and they cuffed me, they grabbed my phone," he said.
Then, Willoughby said, police took him to another suburb and held him for more than eight hours.
"They never told me nothing, ya know. I was scared," he said.
Police swabbed his mouth for DNA and tested his hands for gunshot residue. According to the federal lawsuit filed by Willoughby and two men with similar stories, "citizens detained in conjunction with the fictitious murder of Lt. Gliniewicz may number in the hundreds."
"We believe there was a fair amount of evidence would substantiate the fact that on the morning of this shooting that they knew this was a suicide, and to deflect more scrutiny on the Fox Lake Police Department they let this manhunt snowball into what occurred," said Gregory Kullis, Willoughby's attorney.
They were "...needlessly stopped, arrested, questioned, and otherwise detained," according to the suit, "and deprived of their liberties despite the fact that (police) were in possession of information that clearly pointed to Gliniewicz's death a suicide."
"Departments went out there and grabbed people indiscriminately without probable cause or any facts to support probable cause that they were involved in any crime," Kullis said.
Even though everyone detained that day was eventually relief, for Willoughby missing work while in police custody cost him his job as a contractor. Originally police said they were looking for two white men and a black man based on Gliniewicz's fabricated story. Three local residents who fit that loose description and were arrested have already settled with Fox Lake.
CLICK HERE to read the full lawsuit