A pro-life activist who routinely held a sign and prayed outside a Westland, Michigan, abortion clinic is suing the business and local police, charging a security guard falsely claimed she threatened to bomb the facility.
Kimberly Thames is seeking compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages, attorney fees and costs and expenses from the Northland Family Planning Clinic and employees “John Doe,” Renee Chelian and Mary Guilbernat, the city of Westland and its police department, Chief Jason Soulliere, officers John Gatti, Adam Tardif and Norman Brooks.
According to the complaint, the unidentified security guard at the abortion business on Aug. 27 called police and lied to them that Thames, who frequently stood outside the business and prayed, had threatened to bomb the facility.
Thames then was arrested and detained over the weekend. She was released when the facts of the case were reviewed the following Monday.
“The city of Westland and its police officers committed the most egregious violation of a private citizen’s civil rights I have witnessed in the nearly 20 years I have been litigating civil rights cases,” said Robert Muise, co-founder of the American Freedom Law Center.
“The pain, suffering and humiliation Ms. Thames endured at the hands of these city officials is shocking to the conscience. And Ms. Thames’ unlawful arrest and false imprisonment were instigated, directed and encouraged by Northland and its agents. We intend to hold all parties liable for this injustice.”
The AFLC is working with the Thomas More Society on the case.
Officials for the abortion business, as well as city policy department officials, declined to respond to WND requests for comment on Tuesday.
Thames’s attorneys explained in a statement:
On August 27, 2016, Kimberley Thames went to the Northland facility on Ford Road in Westland, Michigan, to be a witness for life. She silently prayed on the public sidewalks surrounding the facility. She had no weapons with her. She never does. Ms. Thames abhors violence, including the violence of abortion. All she had with her that day was a rosary and a pro-life sign.
As she would often do, Ms. Thames engaged the Northland security guard on duty that day, assuring him that she was praying for him as well as the unborn babies. She also told the guard that she would pray he would find another job – a job that would protect life, not defend death.
The guard appeared agitated by Ms. Thames’ suggestion, claiming that his job was ‘fine’ and that he was there to protect everyone. Ms. Thames told the guard that she was happy to hear that he would protect her as well. She had never heard this from the other guards.
The legal team said Thames left the area momentarily to use a nearby restroom, and when she returned, there were several police cruisers there.
“One of the officers approached Ms. Thames and asked her if she told the security guard that she was going to bomb the clinic. Ms. Thames emphatically rejected such an absurd accusation. Unbeknownst to Ms. Thames, a Northland employee and the security guard called 911 and made a false claim that Ms. Thames was threatening to bomb the Northland facility,” the legal team’s report said.
The police searched her vehicle and found nothing but cuffed and arrested her anyway.
According to the complaint, a Catholic nun who was there with Thames, verified that Thames “never made any threats and that the guard was lying.”
After her arrest, she was placed in a city holding cell where she was detained for three days, the complaint explains. On Monday, “a city detective finally took the time to review the case, correctly concluding that no crime was committed.”
Police then forced her to walk back to her car, which had left near the abortion business, according to the complaint.
“While in the city’s custody, Ms. Thames was not allowed to make a telephone call or to speak with anyone outside of the jail. … She couldn’t eat. The city jailers paraded various criminals in and out of the same holding cell,” the lawyers explained. “She was awake for over 50 hours.”
AFLC co-founder David Yerushalmi said: “We are going to do everything within our power to remedy this grave injustice and punish everyone who is irresponsible for it, including Northland and its founder and CEO, Renee Chelian. Such egregious attacks on the civil rights of pro-life demonstrators have got to stop, and we intend to do it.
“After we are done with this case, government officials and individuals working at abortion facilities will think twice before doing something like this again.”
The complaint alleges violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech, its free exercise of religion, the Fourth Amendment’s requirements regarding search and seizure, the 14th Amendment’s equal protection requirements and bans on conspiracy.
There also is a state claim over false imprisonment and defamation.
Chelian had posted on social media “false and defamatory” statements about the incident, including, “These people need to be treated as the terrorist they are.
“Defendants Soulliere, Gatti, Tardif, Brooks, Doe, and Guilbernat acted with an evil motive or reckless or callous indifference to the federally protected rigthts of plaintiff, warranting punitive damages,” the claim explains.