In February, Shiller Preyar Law Offices (SPLO) filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Jessica Galvez against the Town of Cicero and two police officers. During a 2015 traffic stop the officers used excessive force, and further violated Ms. Galvez’s civil rights. The suit also brings claims of false arrest, conspiracy, and failure to properly train officers.
Officers Mario Alegria and Hopeton Rowe used anti-gay slurs towards Ms. Galvez, who is transgender; forcibly removed her from her car which caused bodily injuries; and put her in a holding cell with male detainees.
Ms. Galvez was charged with several traffic violations and battery to a peace officer–a year and a half later she was found not guilty on all charges.
“My client is such a brave woman for standing up for herself and making a public record of what happened to her,” said SPLO attorney Mary Grieb. “She is standing up for LGBT community as a whole.”
Per a 2012 policy, Cicero Police officers are mandated to treat transgender arrestees with respect and to place them in individual holding cells, away from other detainees, for their own protection.
This policy was a result of a similar case in which Cicero Police officers falsely arrested Bianca Feliciano, a Latina transgender woman, for engaging in sex work; they used crude, hateful and demeaning language towards her; and they abusively denied her gender identity.
Like Ms. Galvez, Ms. Feliciano was later cleared of all charges. She was awarded $10,000 in a settlement with the city, and the police department issued the policy for interactions with trans individuals.
Galvez’s case shows that a policy alone is not enough to change the culture and attitudes of a police department. Especially if officers aren’t being properly trained in the policy.
Shiller Preyar will continue to fight not only for our client but for civil rights of all transgender individuals. If you believe your rights have been violated contact us here: www.shillerpreyar.com/contact