News Local/State

Fourth Excessive Force Lawsuit Filed Against Champaign Officer Rush


Screen shot from police dash cam video of May 26, 2014 incident.

Photo Credit: Champaign Police

The fourth excessive force lawsuit against Champaign Police Office Matt Rush was filed by Precious Jackson of Champaign, who contends his actions in May 2014 caused her to lose her unborn child.  Two other officers - Matt Crane and Ashley Petkunas - along with the city of Champaign, are also named as defendants.

The News-Gazette reported the lawsuit on Friday.  The city has already approved $320,000 in excessive force lawsuit settlements connected to incidents involving Rush. 

This latest suit also contends that Rush and another officer were aware that Jackson had mental health issues when called to a report of a kitchen fire at her home. 

She wasn’t there, but after the fire was put out, the suit contends the two went looking for Jackson – despite claims there was no probable cause for arrest.

The lawsuit alleges Rush get out of his car when he found Jackson walking a few blocks away from her home on University Avenue. 

A police dash cam video showed Rush told Jackson to "come here."  That dashcam video detailing Jackson’s arrest was released to the media in December – after a number of Freedom of Information Act requests.

The lawsuit contends Rush slammed Jackson to ground, punched her, kneed her in the thigh and groin areas, and sprayed her with pepper spray. 

Jackson also alleges officers ignored her pleas for medical care, and says she was falsely arrested in an effort to cover up what Rush had done. 

Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb fired Rush in 2014, but an arbitrator reinstated him to the job, under the terms of a union contract.  The News-Gazette reports he's been on unpaid leave since February 2.   

Groups like CU Citizens for Peace and Justice have been calling Rush to resign, and for Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz to file charges, or provide a statement explaining why she hadn't.