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Evanston mom suing city, claims teenaged son wrongfully detained

Updated: September 25, 2012 5:18PM

A Northwestern University journalism professor is suing the city of Evanston, claiming police wrongly detained her 13-year-old son outside their north suburban home.

Ava Thompson Greenwell filed the suit Sunday in U.S. District Court on behalf of her 13-year-old son, identified as D.Z.

Evanston police responding to a burglary in their upper-middle-class neighborhood on Aug. 30 allegedly mistook her son for the suspect and handcuffed him in his own driveway, against a police car, the suit claims.

Her son did not fit the vague description of the burglar as a “black male” and is an honors student with no criminal history, she says in the suit.

His mother alleges that even after she came outside to explain he lived there, police would not remove the handcuffs, according to the suit. The burglary victim also told police the boy was not the burglar.

Thompson Greenwell is an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications, according to the university’s website.

A city of Evanston Law Department spokesperson declined to comment on the suit Monday afternoon.

The five-count suit names Evanston and the police officer involved as defendants. It claims violation of the boy’s Fourth Amendment rights, as well as assault, false imprisonment, violations of the Illinois State Constitution and the city’s failure to properly train and supervise the officer.

The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

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