Woman sues Byrnes Mill over police actions in traffic stop
By Robert Kelly
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
BYRNES MILL — A local business owner sued the city of Byrnes Mill on Monday, saying she suffered "emotional distress" and alleging that her constitutional rights were violated by Byrnes Mill Police Chief Ed Locke during a traffic stop earlier this year.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court at St. Louis by Linda Schroeder, an owner of a sod and soil business in House Springs. She seeks an unspecified amount of damages for the fees she incurred when her car was ordered towed by Locke and also for the distress she says she suffered during the traffic stop on Jan. 3. The suit asks for a jury trial.
Schroeder has been active in a group called Citizens for a Better Byrnes Mill, which has been campaigning for changes in the way Byrnes Mill police deal with motorists.
Group members have said Byrnes Mill officers, including Locke, have been unnecessarily abusive during several traffic stops. In some cases, motorists said, their vehicles were ordered impounded and towed for relatively minor traffic violations.
Other motorists said they had been verbally or physically abused or both by police officers.
This is the first time one of the group members has filed a suit over those allegations.
Locke said late Monday that he had yet to see the suit, and he declined to comment on it.
Schroeder said she was spurred to file suit because she believed the city was acting too slowly to improve the way its police deal with motorists.
"We really feel like we have given Byrnes Mill every opportunity to address the issues," she said. "They have given us no option. They have ignored people's complaints."
In her suit, Schroeder alleges that Locke ordered her car towed after stopping her on suspicion of a lane usage violation on Highway 30. She says she refused to sign the summons issued by Locke because she believes she violated no law.
In comments earlier this year, Locke defended himself and his officers. He said he has been running an efficient, professional department that has helped keep Byrnes Mill safe.
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