Threats or Freedom of Speech? 911 Tapes, Testimony Detail Events outside Clinic

By Boykin, Ames | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 14, 2007 | Go to article overview

Threats or Freedom of Speech? 911 Tapes, Testimony Detail Events outside Clinic


Boykin, Ames, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Ames Boykin Daily Herald Staff Writer

A woman protesting outside a health clinic in Des Plaines calls 911, saying she is "in fear for my health and life" because of an off-duty police officer wearing a black T-shirt, blue sweatpants and gym shoes.

Dispatcher Cate Loughrige questions her: "You're in fear for your life?"

The protester says: "Ma'am, if you do not do this, I will sue Des Plaines. Please send someone out here. He is hollering at us."

The 911 calls from protesters were played Friday during the opening of the city's case in its attempt to fire police officer Dick V. Lalowski because he is accused of verbally and physically abusing women on May 20, 2006, outside a clinic in Des Plaines.

Lalowski, 43, who has been suspended without pay since the city lodged the charges last fall, denies he did anything wrong.

Richard J. Reimer, Lalowski's attorney, said the officer was in plain clothes exercising his First Amendment free speech rights.

Lalowski is accused of spending more than an hour threatening to arrest the female protesters, calling them "fat (expletive) cows," poking his index finger into the torso of one of them and hugging another.

At one point, city officials contend, Lalowski compared the women's tactics outside the clinic at 110 S. River Road to the Taliban. He also is accused of threatening to arrest the women if they blocked the clinic's entrance or gave people going inside baskets with teddy bears with the message, "I love you, mommy," the city says.

Lalowski should lose his job for disorderly conduct both while in uniform, when he stopped at the protest, and later when he returned in plain clothes after his shift ended, said Patrick Lucansky, an attorney for the city. …

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