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Lawsuit Alleges Wildwood Police Violated Civil Rights

Wildwood city officials agree to allow St. Louis County officials to legally represent the city in Steven Wayne Elliot v. City of Wildwood, et.al. case. It involves claims of excessive force, as well as assault and batter.

Wildwood Mayor Tim Woerther received approval from city councilmembers Monday evening to enter into a contract with St. Louis County for county officials to legally represent the municipality in the Steven Wayne Elliot v. City of Wildwood, et.al. case.

Wildwood resident Steven Elliot filed a lawsuit against a St. Louis County Police-Wildwood (6th) Precinct officer, indicating his civil rights were violated. Due to Wildwood's contract with the St. Louis County Police Department for police services, Wildwood as a city, also was cited in the lawsuit.

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Wildwood city attorney Rob Golterman said Wildwood will not incur costs for the legal representation from the county.

Elliot filed four counts against Wildwood police officer James McDonald and the city itself:

  1. Elliot alleged McDonald violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by using excessive force when handcuffing him.
  2. Elliot alleged Wildwood violated his rights by delegating authority to McDonald, failing to train, supervise and control him, and by failing to prevent a pattern of the officer's transgressions.
  3. Elliot claimed Wildwood and the St. Louis County Police Department are "vicariously liable" for McDonald's actions.
  4. Elliot brought forth a common law claim of assault and batter against McDonald, the county police department and the city.

McDonald was assigned to the Wildwood precinct in January 2007. He was awarded the officer of the year award in December 2004 while an armed bicycle officer for the Department of Public Safety. He is a former security guard and has served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

On July, 12, 2012, Honorable Henry Autrey granted a motion from St. Louis County Police Department-Wildwood Precinct for this case to be dismissed. That action also dismissed the St. Louis County Police Department. However, Autrey denied the City of Wildwood motion to dismiss it.

Case materials indicate the court converted the lawsuit to a "Motion for Summary Judgment," which typically is a procedure used during civil litigation to promptly and expeditiously dispose of a case without a trial. Lawyers indicate it is used when there is no dispute of the material facts of the case and a party is entitled to judgment. Usually a court will hold oral arguments on a summary judgment motion, although it may decide the motion on the parties' briefs and supporting documentation alone. The purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials. It also may simplify a trial.

A PDF of the case summary accompanies this article.

Wildwood city administrator Dan Dubruiel said this is the first lawsuit of this type that he can recall involving the municipality. He also said Wildwood officials have not received many details about the case to date.

Editor's Note:  The matter is being handled by the St. Louis County Counselors’ Office, and Eureka-Wildwood Patch is awaiting information about the current legal status and next steps regarding the lawsuit.

Roger Vincent February 15, 2013 at 02:14 PM
It would interesting to hear why this individual was arrested. I appreciate this article, but it doesn't do the Police justice not knowing the circumstances. The overwhelming vast majority of upstanding citizens never get arrested. I'll side with the Police until I hear more about this.
Julie Brown Patton (Editor) February 15, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Roger, I did inquire about that because I feel the same way. Wildwood city representatives do not know. Wildwood police officers are not allowed to address lawsuit matters. My personal investigation did turn up some possibilities, but until those elements are confirmed with authorities, they will not be published. I hope to hear back soon from the attorney at the St. Louis County Counselors’ Office.
Roger Vincent February 15, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Julie--makes sense to me. I know you'll keep us updated, and thank you for all that you do to keep the community in the loop!
E.J. Rotert February 16, 2013 at 10:25 AM
Wouldn't the case file be at the federal courthouse?
Steve Elliott August 10, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Just wanted to say as the Mr Elliott (aforementioned as Elliot), I can assure you that I do not have a criminal record. Ms Brown, I'm not sure what your investigation may have revealed, but I'd like to enlighten anyone reading this as to what truly transpired. In approximately June or July of 2012, my Autistic son and I where on the property line of my home and the neighbors and we were trying to find a toad we had spotted while taking the family dog to the bathroom. My neighbor didn't like me because my dog pooped in his yard one time. However, that evening when he found us nearing his yard he drove up and began to go on an explicit tirade. When I asked him to stop, because my son was 11 as well as Autistic, he responded by saying "I don't give a F**k about your "
Steve Elliott August 10, 2013 at 10:41 PM
F**king Retarded son". I stood up for my son and pushed him. Three times. Only after he pushed his belly up to mine and challenged me. He then was able to acquire a restraining order against me however inane the whole idea was and still is. I was then accused of asking the wife of the neighbor to be friends on Facebook. Allegedly violating the terms of a restraining order. However, I didn't do that and still question how I might have, since investigation during my 27 hour incarceration by my family members found that she did not even have an account. But, nonetheless, a generic photograph of my Facebook account was presented to me as justification for arrest. I not only was arrested in my own home, but in front of my children. Despite my request that the previously mentioned officer could not accommodate. In my home, in front of my crying children I was not only handcuffed, but they were jammed on my wrists so hard that medical photographs revealed I had substantial damage to the wrists in both arms. For which I wore wrist splints for 4 months. During the arrest I was called a "F**king Pussy" and a multitude of other derogatory names. I didn't resist arrest. I didn't use foul language. I simply asked that the cuffs be loosened. I then asked to be Mirandized at the station and those papers were torn up in front of my face. I then spent 14 of the 27 hours of jail in solitary confinement. Again, I have never been charged with anything prior to or post this event. Ms Brown, do an expose on the Officer in question. Find out how many people have claimed excessive force by his hands. Look at his Indeed page and notice his claim to be proficient in cyber crime. If you can figure it out then you can most certainly falsify documents. Also, why is he no longer employed in the 6th district? What else has happened. Who else has he done similar things to? Please report both sides Ms Editor. Thanks. The Perp
Steve Elliott August 10, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Correction, it was Summer of 2011. Also, the mental scars of what happened still haunt me daily and are indelibly impressed in my children's minds. The case is still active, and I hope he gets everything he deserves. I don't care about monetary compensation. I just hope he is stripped of his badge for his lifetime, because he is a bully with a uniform. Period.

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