UPDATED 1:40 p.m. | A widow says in a new federal lawsuit that the Normal Police Department tried to pressure her into dropping an outside investigation of her claims that an officer stole $12,000 from her family’s home.
Normal Police officer Brian Williams faces theft and official misconduct charges. Williams, an 18-year veteran of the force, is accused of stealing the cash from Dustin and Lindsey Holzhauer’s home Nov. 25 after responding to Dustin’s medical emergency there. Dustin Holzhauer later died from what officials said was an apparent drug overdose.
In the lawsuit filed Monday, Lindsey Holzhauer claims Normal Police didn’t believe her when she suggested an officer stole the money. Police implied a family member took the cash, she said. The $12,000 in cash was related to a family business and recently withdrawn from a bank, said Holzhauer's attorney, Louis Meyer.
Lindsey Holzhauer says she became “terrified” and contacted Illinois State Police after receiving calls from an anonymous person claiming she’d get the money back if she stopped talking to the police. During a subsequent meeting, Holzhauer claims a Normal Police officer "implored (her) to drop the ISP investigation and let Normal Police Department handle things."
“After the meeting, (Holzhauer) felt pressured to drop the ISP investigation and was concerned about her own and her family’s safety,” the lawsuit says.
Holzhauer continued to work with State Police. Williams was arrested by ISP near a Pontiac gas station over Thanksgiving weekend as he allegedly tried to secretly return the money. Williams was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. He has pleaded not guilty.
In a statement issued after Williams’ arrest, NPD says it “asked for and received assistance from the Illinois State Police to investigate the alleged criminal theft.” State Police told WGLT on Dec. 1 that NPD requested its involvement in the case.
Holzhauer accuses Normal Police officers of conspiring to intimidate and scare her into not pursuing the theft investigation. Holzhauer claims the department’s actions caused emotional distress, pain, and suffering. She’s seeking a jury trial for unspecified damages.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the Town of Normal, Police Chief Rick Bleichner, and officers Tim Edmiaston, Jim Ferguson, and Williams.
Bleichner declined comment Monday because it's pending litigation. He said an internal investigation into Williams was ongoing.
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