A former Des Plaines deputy police chief is suing the city, former police chief, mayor and former city manager for forcing him to retire after he reported multiple instances of misconduct, according to court documents filed Aug. 14.
Richard Rozkuszka, a 29-year law enforcement veteran, served as deputy police chief of investigations until he was forced to leave the department on Aug. 15, 2011, according to the lawsuit. Rozkuszka was fired in retaliation for reporting criminal activity within the department to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force, the complaint stated.
Rozkuszka received reports from other Des Plaines police officers, from 2009 to 2011, that Officer John Bueno “repeatedly engaged in violent and improper conduct while on duty, including beating incarcerated arrestees while in custody and in some circumstances while handcuffed,” the complaint stated.
In a separate complaint, a .
Rozkuszka stated in the complaint that he reported the incident involving the DuPage man and other similar abuses to former Police Chief James Prandini. Prandini told Rozkuszka, according to the complaint, to “drop it,” and refused to discipline Bueno.
When Rozkuszka reported Bueno’s and other officers’ misconduct to Prandini, he was threatened with termination and discipline if he reported the incidents outside the Des Plaines Police Department, according to the lawsuit.
After Prandini refused to discipline Bueno for ongoing misconduct, Rozkuszka reported Bueno’s offenses, “Prandini’s indifference, lack of action, threats against [Rozkuszka’s] job and attempts to cover up or hide ongoing criminal activity within the department” to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, according to the complaint.
Prandini told Rozkuszka that Mayor Martin Moylan, Jason Slowinski, former acting city manager, and he were concerned about being “exposed” when his complaints about Bueno were made public, the suit stated.
Bueno was fired in March and is scheduled to appeal the termination at an arbitration hearing in November. Contreras was suspended for four months and has returned to work. Prandini retired at the end of 2011. The city has not made the circumstances surrounding Bueno’s termination and Contreras’ suspension public.
The complaint stated the mayor, former police chief and former city manager “adopted a custom, policy or practice of condoning illegal conduct and the beating of prisoners, and the engaging in a cover-up to hide illegal conduct as well as to punish whistleblowers for speaking out against such illegal practices.”
In the suit, Rozkuszka is seeking to be reinstated to the police department, compensatory and punitive damages, attorney costs, expert witness fees and whatever additional relief the court finds appropriate and just.
In another lawsuit filed in 2011, Bueno and two other officers, James Lave and Matthew Bowler, were accused of arresting a woman without legal justification in June 2009, demanding she sign a consent form to search her home and detaining her until she complied, the Daily Herald reported.
in which Rozkuszka is accused of making derogatory statements to Bueno regarding his Latino heritage.
Bueno’s attorney representing him in the arbitration hearing over his termination, Richard Reimer, did not represent him in his filing of the discrimination complaint, but in an interview with Patch in April, he said the matters were related.
“There’s a lot of overlap between what the EEOC will be investigating and ultimately what transpires before the arbitrator in the grievance arbitration,” Reimer said. “I believe one of the major reasons [Bueno] was fired was because he was retaliated against because he filed a complaint against commander Rozkuszka.”
Acting Police Chief Mike Kozak has filled the position since January, when Prandini retired. Lakemoor Police Chief William Kushner will be sworn in as Des Plaines’ new police chief on Sept. 4. Kushner will be the first chief hired from outside the department in its history. In a recent interview with Patch, .
“We’re going to restore public trust, we’re going to restore trust among the officers, we’re going to look at training, we’re going to look at equipment, we’re going to look at promotions,” Kushner said. “We’re going to look top to bottom to see what’s what, where we need to go and how are we going to get there.”