Quilici battered victim within scope of police authority, jury says.

By: Sarah Sutschek, Northwest Herald: June 9, 2009

ROCKFORD – A second jury ruled in favor of a man beaten outside a Fox Lake bar, this time awarding $450,000 in damages from his civil lawsuit.

The jury who last week heard Ryan Hallett’s civil lawsuit over his beating from three off-duty police officers reached their verdict Monday.

Former Richmond officer Brian Quilici assaulted and battered Hallett outside a Fox Lake bar Feb. 20, 2005, but did so within the scope of his authority as a police officer, the jury found.

Jurors said that it was difficult to determine how much responsibility the village of Richmond held as Quilici’s employer.

“We decided when he took his badge out, that’s when it made it cut and dried,” one juror told attorneys after the verdict was delivered.

The jury, who deliberated for about three hours, also said Quilici used excessive force, failed to intervene, and denied Hallett medical aid.

Quilici had been convicted of five felonies during his criminal trial, including mob action and official misconduct. He served a brief prison term and no longer works in law enforcement.

The two other former officers involved in the incident, Ron Pilati and Jerome Volstad, accepted misdemeanor plea bargains last year.

In the past few weeks, Hallett has settled civil claims against them, the village of Spring Grove, and Jessica Thelen, who was with them.

Quilici was not in court Monday because of work obligations, said his attorney, Vince Solano.

“The reality is we ask the jurors to listen to the evidence,” he said.

“We live and die by the jury system. We respect it.”

The former officers have said that Hallett started the fight outside KC’s Cabin, but he said that they jumped him outside after he stepped between them and a friend of his having a verbal altercation.

They said Hallett took Thelen hostage with a small knife, but Hallett said he was trying to move her out of the way to get to his truck.

Hallett’s attorney, Russell Ainsworth, said that it was Quilici who delivered a kick to Hallett’s face that shattered one of his orbital bones. A plastic plate was inserted around the affected eye, and he spent more than a month recovering.

“Justice has been done,” Ainsworth said. “The jury saw this as an abuse of power and found in favor of Ryan on all five counts.”

Ainsworth had asked the jury to award Hallett $900,000.

“We’re very happy with the dollar amount,” he said.

“This was a very significant injury.”

Litigation over the incident has been going on for four-and-a-half years.

“I’m just happy to be done,” Hallett said.