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Woman Awarded $25,000 In Suit Over Feeding Birds

April 18, 1985

CHICAGO (AP) _ A federal jury has awarded $25,000 to a woman who was locked in a jail cell for almost nine hours in 1982 after she was arrested for feeding pigeons and walking unleashed dogs in a small park.

″It’s not the amount of the award but the principle that counts,″ the plaintiff, Anita Kirchoff of Chicago, said after the award Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Ms. Kirchoff’s attorneys had asked for $308,000 in damages, claiming officers used excessive force when trying to arrest Mrs. Kirchoff’s husband, William, after they arrested her.

The suit stemmed from an incident in which Ms. Kirchoff was arrested in the park by Officer Michael Flynn on May 8, 1982. Flynn and his partner saw the woman tossing birdseed in the park, trying to catch a stray parakeet. Ms. Kirchoff caught the bird, but was arrested after refusing to give her name and address.

She was allowed to walk home to drop off her two dogs and the parakeet, but she charged that a fight broke out because Flynn and his partner, Mary Siwak, tried to take Mrs. Kirchoff from the building forcibly.

Flynn charged that Mrs. Kirchoff’s husband slugged Ms. Siwak.

Arthur Mooradian, who defended the city and Flynn, said he viewed the award favorably, because it did not include any damages to William Kirchoff.

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