Attorney files claim for damages
Attorney Rick Gondik has filed a claim against the city of Superior seeking more than $50,000 in damages for Natasha Lancour, who was involved in an altercation with Superior Police Officer George Gothner in the parking lot of Keyport Liquor on Jan. 5.
The move comes in the midst of a Douglas County Circuit Court case accusing Lancour, 28, of disorderly conduct for the incident. At the same time, Gothner’s use of force during Lancour’s arrest remains under review by special prosecutor Fred Bourg, the Bayfield County district attorney.
Although a number of decisions related to the incident remain up in the air, the filing is required by statute. Anyone expecting to pursue civil action against a municipality has 120 days from the event to provide written notice of the claim. Gondik said; the action preserves his client’s right to possibly file a civil suit against the city. It’s a case of “speak now or forever hold your peace,” the lawyer said. By filing, he said, “At least we’re still in the game.”
The claim, which was submitted April 25, accuses Gothner of using excessive force by physically assaulting Lancour, grabbing her hair, slamming her face onto the hood of a squad car, and slapping and punching her in the face multiple times before throwing her down on the ground during the incident, which was captured on a squad car’s video. According to the claim, Lancour suffered injuries for which she received medical care and she currently suffers from anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, fear and symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder as well as pain.
“Some people will think it’s about the money,” Gondik said. “This is actually about justice.” There is no way to rewind the videotape of life and make it so Lancour was not beaten, he said. The only justice she can get at this point is through monetary damages. He said part of her goal in filing the claim is to effect change in how city police officers conduct themselves.
The claim has not been reviewed by the city’s Claims Committee yet. It is expected to be on the agenda for the committee’s May 29 meeting, according to the city attorney’s office.