A West Liberty mother, accused of becoming “disorderly” after her son was arrested in December, now is suing the City of North Liberty and a police officer on allegations her ankle was broken while her son was in police custody.
Anissa Gerard, 42, states in her lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Johnson County District Court, that North Liberty police called her on Dec. 10 about her 17-year-old son, who had been arrested. She went to the police station to get her son, according to the lawsuit, and while she was there North Liberty Officer Mitchell Seymour interviewed her and accused her of being under the influence of alcohol.
Seymour arrested Gerard on suspicion of public intoxication and handcuffed her, the lawsuit states. As he escorted Gerard from a holding cell to a vehicle that would have taken her to the Johnson County Jail, Seymour held on to Gerard’s arm and propelled her faster than she “would normally walk,” according to the lawsuit.
Gerard, in the lawsuit, states that she didn’t see the stairs ahead, was not warned by Seymour, and started to fall when she encountered them. In the lawsuit, she accuses Seymour of failing to hold onto her arm and keep her from falling.
According to the lawsuit, Gerard fell down the stairs while her arms were still handcuffed behind her back, causing her to break her left ankle.
“Seymour owed a duty to Gerard, a person he believed to be intoxicated, to see that she was safely transported from the place of her arrest to the county jail,” according to the lawsuit.
Calls to the City of North Liberty and the North Liberty Police Department from The Gazette were not returned, but police reports stemming from the original incident paint a different picture.
According to several criminal complaints, Gerard was “highly intoxicated” when she came in to get her juvenile son and she “became disorderly” in the interview room. When officers tried to place her under arrest, according to the complaints, Gerard is accused of resisting by pulling her hands away from the officers and refusing to put them behind her back.
The complaints indicate that Gerard was “yelling and screaming” at the officers before eventually throwing her cell phone against a wall, causing damage to the drywall.
As the officer was walking Gerard to a squad car, the complaints state, she is accused of pulling away and trying to turn and face them several times. There is no mention of her falling or breaking her ankle in the police reports.
Gerard was charged with public intoxication, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and interference with official acts. The disorderly conduct and interference charges were dropped, and she pleaded guilty in March to the public intoxication charge.
She was sentenced to serve a year of probation, complete 40 hours of community service, pay fines, comply with substance evaluation and treatment, and write an apology letter to the North Liberty Police Department, according to court records.
A copy of that letter was filed with the court. It contained one sentence that read, “I apologize for engaging in activities that led to my pleading guilty to the charges.”
She is suing the city and Seymour for negligence and asking to be compensated for medical expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering and past, present and future loss of income and earning capacity.