HIV-positive, gay suburban man files suit against city and police

Mon. February 1, 2010 12:00 AM by Amy Wooten

Blue Island, IL - An HIV-positive Blue Island has filed a civil rights lawsuit in district court against the City of Blue Island and two of its police officers for allegedly using excessive force, maliciously prosecuting him and verbally assaulting him for being an HIV-positive, gay man, among other allegations.

According to the complaint, Demetrius Anderson, who suffers from clinical depression and anxiety, attempted suicide in April 2009. When EMTs arrived, Anderson allegedly panicked and tried to run away. Officers arrived on the scene, and supposedly unbeknownst to Anderson, began to chase him. Anderson claims that one of the officers used a taser on him without warning and used excessive force, which caused him injury.

The case also alleges that the officers verbally assaulted Anderson that day, making comments about his religion. Anderson is Muslim.

Anderson was taken to a hospital and treated for his self-inflicted wound. According to the lawsuit, when Anderson was taken from the hospital to the police station for booking several days later, police officers made negative comments regarding his HIV status and sexual orientation. Additionally, the complaint alleges that an officer commented that the next time Anderson attempts suicide, he should jump off a bridge.

"It is extreme and outrageous that these officers would maliciously target Mr. Anderson for this horrible abuse at a time when he was most vulnerable," said attorney Jon Erickson. "The depth of hate and prejudice regarding race, sexuality, mental health and HIV status is aggressively shocking."

Police charged Anderson with resisting arrest.

The lawsuit, filed by Chicago's Civil Rights Center, also alleges that the Blue Island Police Department failed to properly train its officers to effectively deal with people suffering from mental illness.

Calls to the Blue Island Police Department have not yet been returned.