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East Chicago settles lawsuit alleging excessive force

January 19, 2016

Court records say the city of East Chicago has settled a lawsuit with the family of a now-deceased man who alleged a police officer used excessive force against him in 2012.

The (Munster) Times reports 31-year-old Martell Tillotson of East Chicago sued the officer and the city in 2013, alleging that the officer violated his constitutional rights by using excessive force and wrongly arresting him. Tillotson was fatally shot in September 2014, and no one has been charged in his killing.

A status report filed by attorney David Gladish says the lawsuit was settled in September, and that Tillotson's estate was setting up accounts for his children. A stipulation of dismissal was filed last week.

East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker said attorneys for the city decided to settle the lawsuit, but that the officer involved "did absolutely nothing wrong."

"We found this to be a frivolous lawsuit," he said. "The plaintiff did his best to provoke our officer, and he was ultimately arrested."

A video of the incident provided by Gladish to the newspaper shows the officer saying "I will tune you up" and using profanities. Becker said Tillotson and several others had gone to the police station to retrieve an impounded vehicle, and that one of Tillotson's friends took the video.

Police reviewed the video with a city attorney and didn't find evidence that the officer acted inappropriately, Becker said.

Tillotson was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct in connection with the incident. Court records say that charge was dismissed in April 2014.

Gladish said the lawsuit "was not a frivolous case," and that the officer should be disciplined. Becker said he opted not to discipline the officer after considering the entire situation, but that he didn't approve of his language.

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