April 30, 2008
By MARK LAWTON [email protected]
A former police officer fired by the City of Northlake is suing the city.
Daniel Rasic filed a suit Jan. 7 in U.S. District Court against the City of Northlake, Northlake police and fire commission members and Police Chief Dennis Koletsos.
In his filing, Rasic asks the court to review the police and fire commission’s decision. He also seeks unspecified amount in back wages and damages or reinstatement as a police officer.
In November, the three-member police commission approved ending Rasic’s employment after eight years with the police department.
The board charged Rasic with insubordination, failing to obey orders and conduct detrimental to the department after failing to appear in court after receiving subpoenas while on family medical leave.
According to court documents, Rasic went on leave after the birth of his daughter starting on July 6, 2007 and then was granted an extension for his father’s illness.
He was on leave when he received a subpoena to appear in Municipal Court in Maywood on Aug. 7 in connection with a drunk driving case he had handled.
Rasic received two more subpoenas to appear in court August and September while he was still on leave. He did not show up in court.
“If someone is on leave, they have the right not to be contacted,” said Alex Caffarelli, Rasic’s attorney. “One of the allegations (in the filing) is that the duty they tried to impose didn’t have to be imposed and the only reason it was imposed was to create a reason to terminate Mr. Rasic.”
According to the court document, Rasic instead contacted the police department and the state’s attorney. His attorney said that subpoenas are routinely rescheduled.
“If the officer can’t make it, they continue it as a matter of course,” Caffarelli said. “In Rasic’s case, they refused to continue the subpoena and used it as a pretext to discontinue his employment.”
Police Chief Koletsos declined to speak about the case, saying he does not comment on ongoing litigation.
Mike McGrath, an attorney for the City of Northlake, did not return calls for comment.
Mayor Jeff Sherwin said he had not seen the lawsuit filing but said “whatever is alleged is baseless and without merit. I have every confidence in the commissioners and the police department.”