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Former Illinois Police Officer Suspected in Wife's Disappearance Named in Brutality Suit

A former police officer suspected in the disappearance of his wife will be defended in a police brutality lawsuit by an attorney hired by the town that employed him, his personal attorney said Friday.

Former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson, who is a suspect in the disappearance of his wife, Stacy Peterson, and two other Bolingbrook officers are accused in a federal lawsuit by a man who claims they broke his thumb while he was in police custody.

In his lawsuit filed last month, Timothy Brownlee accused police of having used excessive force, committed assault and battery and conspiracy, and falsely arrested and imprisoned him on May 28, 2007.

He claims Peterson and two other officers dragged him from the booking area and threw him to the ground. He said after he was handcuffed Peterson "grabbed his right thumb and twisted it, breaking it."

Police say Brownlee was arrested after a neighbor complained he was using vulgar language and was uncooperative, and that Brownlee's actions in the booking room required officers to restrain him. Brownlee was initially charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice, but the charges were later dismissed, according to his lawsuit.

Brownlee referred questions to his attorney, Jon Loevy. Loevy did not immediately return calls for comment Friday.

Village attorney James Boan declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Peterson's attorney, Joel Brodsky, provided The Associated Press a copy of a letter in which Boan said the village would provide Peterson an attorney.

Brodsky said Brownlee included Peterson in the lawsuit in an "attempt to make money off the fact that Drew Peterson is being investigated and Stacy Peterson is missing and (Peterson's former wife) Kathy Savio died tragically in her bathtub."

He said the incident in the booking room was videotaped and Peterson was not on duty.

Peterson has been named a suspect in his wife's disappearance, which authorities have called a possible homicide, but he has not been charged. Stacy Peterson was last seen Oct. 28 and was reported missing by her family the next day.

Peterson has denied any involvement in her disappearance. He has said he believes she left him for another man and is alive.

The investigation prompted the exhumation of the Peterson's third wife, Savio. Prosecutors have said evidence indicates her 2004 death may have been a homicide staged to look like an accident. Results of a new autopsy have not been released. Peterson has not been named a suspect in her death.