Two men who were scooped up in the initial investigation into the death of Fox Lake Police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz have filed a federal suit against the village, its former police chief and others, alleging their constitutional rights were violated.
Lawyers for Preston Shrewsbury and Manuel Vargas say the two men were detained several times last September in connection with Gliniewicz’s death, even though “The Village of Fox Lake knew there was a strong suspicion and likelihood that . . . Gliniewicz took his own life,” according to the suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court.
On one occasion, a police helicopter hovered above the home where Shrewsbury and Vargas were living in Fox Lake, and SWAT members surrounded the place, according to the suit.
Gliniewicz was found shot dead on Sept. 1 after calling in a report that he saw three suspicious subjects at an abandoned concrete plant in Fox Lake. The death sparked a massive manhunt, national media coverage and a hero’s funeral for Gliniewicz.
Investigators eventually determined that Gliniewicz staged his suicide to look as if he were murdered because he feared discovery that he had been stealing thousands of dollars from a youth police group he led to spend on vacations, pornography and other expenses.
Gregory E. Kulis, a lawyer representing Shrewsbury and Vargas, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Fox Lake officials were initially happy to go along with the theory that Gliniewicz didn’t take his own life because they didn’t want the village — under an intense media spotlight — to have its “dirty laundry aired.”
The Village of Fox Lake, former Police Chief Michael Behan, who retired before Gliniewicz committed suicide, and the Village of Libertyville are among those mentioned as defendants in the suit.
“The Village of Fox Lake has not been formally served with the lawsuit and has not had an opportunity to review details of the complaint,” according to a statement the village issued Monday. “The village will determine a proper course of action after it has thoroughly reviewed the complaint. Therefore, the village will reserve any comment until it gains a better understanding of the lawsuit and its specific allegations.”
Libertyville officials didn’t immediately returns calls seeking a comment about the suit. Behan could not be reached for comment.