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Lancour files lawsuit against city of Superior, three police officers

The city of Superior -- and three of its police officers -- are facing a lawsuit, filed Monday in Douglas County Circuit Court. The suit alleges that Officer George Gothner used "excessive and unreasonable force" during the Jan. 5, 2014, arrest o...

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Natasha Lancour talks to local media during a press conference at the Douglas County Courthouse in this photograph from January 2014. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

The city of Superior - and three of its police officers - are facing a lawsuit, filed Monday in Douglas County Circuit Court.

The suit alleges that Officer George Gothner used "excessive and unreasonable force" during the Jan. 5, 2014, arrest of Natasha Lancour outside Keyport Liquor and Lounge in Superior. The suit seeks no specific amount of money, but demands a jury trial.

It comes seven months after Gothner was given a one-day suspension for using vulgarities during that arrest. Gothner was cleared of any allegations of brutality during the arrest following a state and internal review of the incident.

Video released shortly after the incident, shot by a dashboard camera in Gothner's squad car, showed him shoving Lancour, 29, of Superior onto the hood of the vehicle and striking her in the face with a closed fist as she reached toward his face and tried to pull away.

Bayfield County District Attorney Fred Bourg reviewed the case for possible charges following the state investigation into the incident. While he said that Gothner's actions brought "disrepute to his police agency," and that "there is ample evidence that his actions were rude, in poor taste, and possibly, unnecessarily violent," no charges were filed. Bourg said he did not believe proof beyond a reasonable doubt existed to support charges.

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An internal investigation into the incident found that Gothner's use of force during the arrest was justified.

The lawsuit filed Monday also names Superior police Sgt. William Lear and Officer Sean Holmgren as co-defendants. The suit alleges that Lear and Holmgren failed to come to the aid of Lancour as Gothner used excessive force, and that Lear threatened to use a Taser. The lawsuit accuses all three officers of attempting to cover up Gothner's use of excessive force by filing false reports to render charges against Lancour.

The suit cites 21 claims for relief for alleged excessive force, failure of bystander officers to intervene, false arrest, violations of constitutional rights, inadequate training policies, false imprisonment, emotional distress, assault, battery, malicious prosecution, negligence, negligent hiring, training and supervision, and preparation, creation and dissemination of false police reports.

Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander, who was serving as a deputy chief in at the time of Lancour's arrest in January 2014, said he could not comment on pending litigation.

Lancour initially was charged with battery to a peace officer and disorderly conduct after the arrest, but the felony battery charge later was dropped; the disorderly conduct charge was dismissed in late October on a motion from Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank.

Related Topics: SUPERIORPOLICE
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