- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - The widow of a southwestern Illinois man shot to death a year ago by a Madison County sheriff’s deputy is suing the officer and the department, claiming the law enforcer’s failure to identify himself created confusion that escalated to gunfire.

Teri Cloninger has filed the lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court against sheriff’s Sgt. Bill Marconi and the county Sheriff’s Department, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1mhkexu) reported.

Authorities have said Marconi was investigating a complaint that someone poured a flammable liquid down a chimney when he confronted Barry Cloninger, 51, in January of last year at Cloninger’s home near Edwardsville.

Investigators say Marconi shot and killed Cloninger after Cloninger pointed a loaded shotgun in the deputy’s direction. Alcohol and traces of cocaine were found in Cloninger’s system, the newspaper reported.

The lawsuit claims Marconi never identified himself as a sheriff’s deputy to Cloninger and “had no grounds to suspect that (Cloninger) had violated any law.”

Sheriff Bob Hertz, responding to the lawsuit, told the newspaper that Marconi did what he felt he needed to do during “an unfortunate incident,” and that Marconi has the sheriff’s complete support.

Hertz said investigations of the matter by the Illinois State Police and Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office concluded the deputy was justified in using force.

Marconi doesn’t have a listed home telephone number and could not be reached Sunday by The Associated Press for comment.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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