CHICAGO - A civil lawsuit has been filed in federal court by the family of 16 year-old Michael DeAngelo Sago, Jr. against the off-duty Winnebago County Sheriff's Deputy who shot and killed him during an armed robbery attempt at a Rockford pizzeria. The lawsuit alleges that Deputy Frank Pobjecky violated Sago's civil rights through the use of excessive force, failing to provide medical care, and not calling for paramedics in a timely fashion, among other things. Winnebago County Sheriff Richard Meyers and Winnebago County are also named in the lawsuit.
It arises from an attempted armed robbery at Marie's Pizza in Rockford in October of 2011. Sago and three young adults reportedly stormed the pizzeria and threatened employees with a gun. Desmond Lamar Bellmon, 23, Brandon Lewis Sago, 22, and Lamar Okeita Coates, 23,Pobjecky happened to be in the pizzeria at the time, grabbed the owner's gun, and shot all four robbers, killing Sabo as he tried to flee from the scene. The lawsuit alleges Pobjecky shot the unarmed teenager three times in the back and then did nothing to assist him as he lay bleeding to death in the parking lot.
Pobjecky was later cleared of any wrongdoing by a Winnebago County grand jury and cited by Sheriff Meyers for his actions. In a statement weeks after the shooting, the Sheriff said, "This was a real time, dynamic situation in which Deputy Pobjecky was in fear of his life and the lives of others in the business at the time of this robbery. It is our opinion that there was no opportunity for Deputy Pobjecky to react differently or use any other alternative action based upon the actions of the four suspects."
Sabo's family does not deny the teen was involved in the armed robbery, but claim he was unarmed and fleeing the scene, and did not deserve to die. Their attorney says, "Were it not for the gross misconduct of Frank Pobjecky, Michael Sago, Jr. would be alive today. Michael was an unarmed minor who was running from the scene. He was a 16-year-old who was shot in the back not once, but three times even though he did not present a threat to Pobjecky." He goes further to say that Sheriff Meyers' statements are "sending the unmistakable message to Sheriff's Deputies that shooting unarmed teenagers in the back is a proper act" which could encourage future abuses when it comes to police use of deadly force.
The six-count lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.