Lawsuit alleges police berated grieving woman 

Police have been slapped with a $1.4 million federal civil rights lawsuit over a 2005 incident in which an officer allegedly berated a grieving woman whose brother had just died.

On July 10, 2005, Angela Ostini, 54, and her husband, Dennis, 52, of Lake County, were at a relative’s home on Summer Avenue when they received a phone call with news that Angela Ostini’s brother had unexpectedly died. The sounds of Ostini grieving prompted a neighbor to call police.

According to the lawsuit, after police arrived one of the responding officers, Jarel Peters, forcibly put his hands on her, demanded that she stop crying, called her a "b----" and yelled at her that his relative had recently committed suicide. He also threatened to take her in for an evaluation, according to the lawsuit.

"Who is this guy?" Dennis Ostini said in a phone interview. "She’s not mentally unstable. She’s grieving."

Dennis Ostini, a 29-year Lake County sheriff’s sergeant, said he saw an accompanying officer’s jaw drop during the exchange. He said Peters left shortly thereafter. Angela Ostini filed a formal complaint through the city and police Chief Jack Van Etten subsequently sent a letter of apology. Van Etten and City Attorney Larry Anderson declined to comment Friday.

The lawsuit, filed last week by Ostini’s attorney, Ananda Norris, says the Police Department did not provide Peters enough time to deal with his own emotional difficulties.

"Every time she thinks of her brother, this Officer Peters comes up," Dennis Ostini said. "Once they knew there was no stabbings, no crime, that it was just a sister grieving, they should’ve said, ‘We’re sorry. We’re going.’"

bfoley@examiner.com

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