City of Springfield and Springfield Police Department Settle False Arrest Lawsuit for $100k

Rhet Spengel – Now-Retired Springfield Police Officer

Springfield, Illinois – In an update to a story that we’ve been following and covering, the City of Springfield and the Springfield Police Department have settled a lawsuit with Cory E. Hoedebecke, who had previously filed a lawsuit against the City and Springfield Police Officer, Rhet Spengel. Hoedebecke accused Officer Spengel of unlawfully pulling him over and illegally arresting him.

The original incident occurred on July 7, 2019, when Officer Spengel pulled over Hoedebecke, his ex-friend, due to retaliation. Text messages exchanged between Spengel and Erika H. Carlove, who was with Cory that night, revealed that Officer Spengel repeatedly questioned Erika via text about when Cory would be leaving the bar and what vehicle he was driving. At the time of the text message exchange, we’re told that Carlove didn’t know what Spengel was up to.

According to the police report, shortly after Spengel and Erika’s text message exchange, Officer Spengel wrote in his report that at 12:44 a.m. on July 7, 2019, he observed a vehicle, a 2014 red Jeep Wrangler, parked in front of 215 S. 2nd St., Bob’s Butternut Hut Bar. Upon running the plate, he saw that the registered owner was Cory E. Hoedebecke. He was familiar with this subject and aware that he had a prior arrest for Driving under the Influence of Alcohol. Cory has been known to often drive impaired. He observed the vehicle for a while, then saw Cory walking to the car. Cory was clearly stumbling and having difficulty maintaining his balance as he entered the vehicle. As Cory drove south on 2nd St. and turned west onto Jefferson, Spengel got behind him. The stoplight on 2nd at Jefferson was red. Cory stopped well past the line and didn’t make a complete stop. Spengel followed Cory as he traveled west on Jefferson. At 1st and Jefferson, Spengel observed Cory cross the lane line and straddle it for several seconds. He then proceeded to change to the left lane without signaling. Cory then turned south onto Walnut from Jefferson.

The report continues, stating that, based on these facts and circumstances, I stopped the car on Walnut at Washington. I advised Cory of the violations and asked how much he had drunk. Cory looked at me and refused to answer the question. Carlove was in the front passenger seat. I asked Cory to exit the vehicle, and he complied. I asked him again how much he had drunk, and he just looked at me. Instead, Cory repeatedly asked for a supervisor, and Sgt. Zander #534 responded. I noticed that Cory’s speech was slurred. His eyes were extremely red, and his pupils were constricted. It appeared as though Cory was having difficulty keeping his eyes open. I could detect a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. I asked Cory several times if he would perform some field sobriety tests, and he refused.

I came to the conclusion that Cory was impaired by alcohol, and he was operating a motor vehicle. I placed Cory under arrest for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol. Officer T. Sullivan #772 completed a tow sheet, and it was towed from the scene. I transported Cory to Sangamon Co. Jail and issued him citation #455429 for DUI Alcohol. I read the Warning to Motorist to Cory and issued him citations #455427 for Disobeying Traffic Control Signal and #455428 for Improper Lane Usage. I completed the Sworn Report and gave Cory his receipt to drive. I completed a probable cause sheet and use of force form. BAT (Breath Alcohol Technician) operator Officer Boyle #769 was present. Boyle asked Cory if he wished to give a breath sample, and Cory refused. Cory refused to answer any of my questions, so I didn’t attempt to interview him any further. Cory was left in the custody of Officer Stoutameyer.

Later in the day, around 3:35 p.m., Officer Spengel took the traffic stop a step further by attempting to get Cory’s vehicle seized. In the supplemental report, Officer Spengel wrote, “On July 7, 2019 at 3:35 p.m., I conducted a follow up investigation regarding a DUI Alcohol arrest involving Cory E. Hoedebecke. It came to my attention that Cory had four prior arrests for DUI Alcohol, after his vehicle had already been towed and impounded by Taylor Brothers Towing at their tow lot. Cory’s prior arrests were on 01/31/94, 03/26/94, 10/07/94 and 02/21/05. The three arrests in 1994 resulted in convictions. I completed the asset forfeiture paperwork, and mailed Cory a Notice to Arrestee form advising him of the possible seizure of his vehicle through certified mail. The tow form and record at the front desk were also amended.”

According to records we’ve obtained, there was no camera or body camera footage of Cory’s driving that night. In addition, when Spengel’s body camera was on, while speaking to Cory, he confirmed that he was “using deception” and stalking Mr. Hoedebecke through his passenger via text message.

A source close to Springfield Leaks confirmed that at the conclusion of the Internal Affairs investigation, it was recommended to terminate Officer Spengel. However, that was overturned by former Chief of Police, Kenny Winslow. Spengel was given a suspension of 45 days instead.

Cory’s driving under the influence charge and all traffic tickets related to the DUI traffic stop have been dismissed, as it was determined that there was no basis for the traffic stop.

On October 3, 2023, the City Council approved a $100,000 settlement with Cory. The terms of the settlement state that $82,500 will be paid by the City, and $10,000 will be paid by Officer Spengel or on his behalf. After the settlement was approved, Cory told Springfield Leaks, “I appreciate internal affairs for their diligence during the investigation and for holding the corrupt officer accountable. I also want to commend the other officers who were honest during the IA interviews and their depositions. I’m grateful for those who honored their oath and refused to sacrifice their integrity to cover for a dirty officer who had no issues lying under oath and falsifying reports to violate a citizen’s rights.”

In June 2023, almost 4 years after this incident, Officer Spengel retired from the Springfield Police Department.

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