Indiana pays $225K 'bar tab'

The State of Indiana has an old and expensive “bar tab” to settle.

NewsCenter 16 has learned that the state will pay $225,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the former proprietors of Blue Jeans Bar in St. Joseph County.

The payment comes years after the establishment went out of business—and it arguably has something to do with ‘why’ Blue Jeans folded.

On January 9th of 2010, Mishawaka Police Corporal James Szuba and his canine partner Ricky were killed when their squad car was hit by a drunk driver.

Two days later, Indiana State Excise Police officers—acting on a tip, but lacking a warrant—seized the video surveillance equipment at Blue Jeans off Chippewa Blvd. near the AM General Plant.

Then in April, in a television news story aired by South Bend’s CBS affiliate, Excise Officer Tim Cleveland claimed that the video showed the drink driver (Sean Devine) was drinking at Blue Jeans before the fatal crash.

In the story Cleveland said "We can prove he was there and how long he was there," and Cleveland spoke about the need to take action quickly. “There's a sense of urgency, absolutely, before somebody else gets killed,"

In July of 2010, John and James Gonsalves told NewsCenter 16 that they felt they were being unfairly targeted and harassed by police.

The brothers from Bangladesh promised to “fight back.”

Now, one of the battles has concluded. Indiana’s Attorney General has agreed to pay $225,000 in settlement money.

Court proceedings proved that the Blue Jeans Bar video showed that the only people there prior to the fatal accident were two cleaning persons, a bartender, and a disc jockey: not Sean Devine.

The judge also noted that the surveillance equipment was kept in police custody for about five months, leaving the bar owners unable to refute the false allegations as they were being made.

One of the officers named in the lawsuit, Tim Cleveland still works for the Indiana Excise Police, while Kayla Dawson left that agency in July of 2012.

The State of Indiana continues to deny any fault, wrongdoing, or liability in this case. A spokesman for the Indiana Attorney General says the settlement was simply a way to efficiently resolve the suit without further litigation.


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