Police assaulted unconscious man and permanently disabled his mother, family claims
According to a complaint filed this week and first obtained by Courthouse News Service, cops in the Chicago suburb of Oswego are responsible for viciously beating 44-year-old registered nurse Bonny Flerlage and her family in the midst of a medical emergency.
On the evening of August 25, 2011, the complaint alleges, Ms. Flerlage pulled her car to the side of the road and ran to rescue her son, 23-year-old Austin Decowski, who was acting belligerent to such a degree that his mother assumed he had been drugged.
"Bonny Flerlage, who originally thought her son was intoxicated, realized there was something seriously wrong medically wrong with him,” the complaint reads.
The woman’s children, Tyler and Alexia Flerlage, were also on the scene and attempted to assist Mr. Decowski when a passerby called 911 and reported they saw what appeared to be five people attacking a boy on the ground. Oswego Police Officer R. Melhouse arrived shortly after, followed soon by Officer Brian Nehring.
Then, as Decowski awaited medical attention, "Defendant Officer Melhouse straddled Austin Decowski and smacked him in the head with defendant Officer Melhouse's flashlight, knocking him unconscious with the first blow,” the complaint claims.
Despite pleas from the family, Melhouse allegedly continued to beat Decowski with a closed first, while the victim was reportedly “clearly unconscious.”
When Tyler Flerlage went to intervene while fearing for his brother’s life, Melhouse responded by decking him with the flashlight so hard that the impact sent him flying.
"Defendant Officer Melhouse then started striking Tyler Flerlage in the face. Tyler Flerlage kept throwing up his hands in a surrendering position but defendant Officer Melhouse continued to strike Tyler Flerlage in the head and face,” the suit continues.
According to the claim, Officer Nehring joined in and began beating Tyler Flerlage’s head into the concrete. Meanwhile, Decowski was reportedly tossed around by the officers despite remaining unconscious. After the officers assaulted him further, Melhouse called for paramedics.
After ten minutes of unconsciousness, Decowski reportedly began gurgling blood.
"Bonny Flerlage believed her son was having a seizure,” the complaint claims, the mother was unable to intervene because she was in cuffs herself at that point. Before the paramedics could be dispatched, Ms. Flerlage attempted to intervene as well and was “face-planted” into the ground by one of the officers. Flerlage had previously suffered a spinal injury and the lawsuit claims the impact of the assault at the hands of the Oswego police forced her to lose control of her bladder and she is now permanently disabled.
A police report published after the incident in 2011 by the Beacon News Sin Times reveals that Decowski, only 21 at the time of the assault, was charged with aggravated battery, domestic battery and resisting arrest. His mother was charged with battery and obstructing justice and Tyler, then 17, was charged with aggravated assault and obstruction.
According to Courthouse News, the Flerlage family is suing for excessive force, false arrest, conspiracy, failure to intervene, false imprisonment, assault and battery, denial of medical attention and emotional distress. Bonny Flerlage says she has spent $70,000 in nursing bills since the deliberating incident, and her entire family has reportedly since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.