13 Investigates: Belvidere man alleges excessive force of police in midst of bitter custody dispute

BELVIDERE (WREX) – A Belvidere man says an officer with the Belvidere Police Department left him battered and bloody on Father’s Day 2018 for no reason. However, police say they were doing their job.

While there is no body or dashcam recordings available, 13 Investigates uncovered a neighbor’s Nest security camera footage that reveals details about what happened that day when police showed up on Paul Ainley’s doorstep.

In that footage, you can’t see police arrest Paul Ainley, and you don’t know why, but you can hear everything:

Ainley: “Help!”
Police: “You understand me? Hands behind your back!”
Ainley: ” I can’t breathe. I will, I’m trying.” 

“His knee was in the middle of my back and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die,” Paul Ainley told 13 Investigates, just days after the incident. “He kept yelling ‘Stop resisting.’ I told him I wasn’t resisting, I can’t get my arms back there. And he started punching me in the face.”

Ainley says he’s had numerous arm surgeries, so he couldn’t put his arms behind his back.

Seventeen minutes after the altercation began, an ambulance pulls away. Inside of it is a bloodied Ainley. Hospital records obtained by 13 Investigates show Ainley was “subdued by police” and “struck in the face multiple times.”

Ainley says it was all over a misunderstanding the police that day.

“He said give me the child or you’re going to jail.”

That child is Ainley’s grandson, a young boy at the center of a bitter custody battle between his parents. The 5-year-old’s mother had custody because, according to court documents, a judge revoked all visitation of Nick Wisley, the child’s father. That’s why Ainley says he was so surprised to see police and Wisley at his door Father’s Day morning.

“They thought he had custody and was going to take the kid, going to take my grandson,” Ainley said.

Ainley says police told him to hand over the child or they would take him to jail, so he closed his door and asked police to get a search warrant.

“As soon as I started to close the door, he pushed the door open, came in to my house, grabbed me, pushed me out to the front porch. I put both hands into the air, and he just pushed me off the porch,” Ainley said.

However, that’s not what the officer says happened.

“Once the officer got to the door and someone answered the door, things escalated in a matter of seconds,” Belvidere Police Chief Shane Woody told 13 Investigates.

According to the police report, Officer Matthew Korn says Ainely put his finger on his chest, pushing him. It goes on to say Ainley tried to run away while Korn was arresting him.

“Had Mr. Ainley simply said ‘No, we’re not releasing the child,’ that would have been the end of it,” Woody said.

Ainley says that’s exactly what he said, and he says the neighbor’s Nest cam proves it.

Ainley: “Go away.”
Ainley: “You don’t have a search warrant, get away from my house.”
Officer: “I will let…”
Ainley: “Get away from my house. Now you’re putting your hands on me?”

Woody says Ainley wasn’t listening to the officer’s commands.

“If people comply, there’s no need to use force. This isn’t a situation where somebody put their hands behind their back and was willing to be handcuffed,” he said.

Officer: “Get on the ground!”
Ainley: “No.”
Officer: “Get on the ground!”
?Ainley: “No!”

But this story isn’t just about police use of force. It’s about why police were there in the first place.

Woody says police were shown court documents that said Wisley was supposed to have visitation on that day. But remember, a judge revoked the father’s custody. Police say they didn’t know that, and never questioned the document Wisley gave them.

“Is an officer going to potentially take a court order on its face? Sure. Without any information to the contrary that that court order is invalid,” Woody said.

Woody also says Ainley never tried to show police proof that court order was old.

“I think it’s important to understand, again, you are relying on information that the officer didn’t have that day,” Woody said.

When 13 Investigates pressed Woody on whether Ainley should have been arrested in the first place, he said, “Well again, that’s a judgment that the officer had made on scene that particular day, again information that I’m comfortable to comment, it escalated and the officer felt it necessary to take Mr. Ainley in to custody. And the law specifically states that even if the arrest itself is unlawful, nobody has the right to resist it.”

Ainley says he never got the chance to show police any documents proving his grandson shouldn’t have gone with his father. He was charged with battery and resisting arrest. Due to those charges, he lost his job. The Ainley’s have hired an attorney and plan to sue the police department; he’s also filed a formal complaint against the officers involved in his arrest.

Woody says those officers are still on duty and he is personally investigating what happened that day.

Audrey Moon

Audrey Moon

Asst. News Director

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