Internal affairs records in police agencies are public, the Illinois Appellate Court in Springfield ruled last week, in a citizen’s lawsuit over records of past complaints against a police officer he claims mistreated him during a traffic stop.
Mark Gekas tried to conduct his own investigation of the officer after the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Division of Professional Standards determined his complaint of mistreatment was unfounded, the Chicago Tribune reported. The sheriff refused Gekas’s request for any previous citizen-complaints, saying they were part of the officer’s personnel file and exempt from disclosure.
The trial court overseeing Gekas’s lawsuit allowed four out of 27 investigative files to be released. The rest were withheld, according to the appellate court opinion, "either because the Division had found the complaints therein to be unfounded or because the complaints did not resemble the complaint plaintiff had made against Gillette."
Both sides then appealed; the sheriff’s office sought to withhold the first four records, while Gekas wanted all 27. Gekas won.
According to the Tribune, the court has allowed the Sangamon County Sheriff 35 days to take the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court.