EAU CLAIRE — An Eau Claire woman is petitioning the court system to make the Eau Claire Police Department return a laptop computer that she owns.
Wendy Bawden filed the petition on Tuesday in Eau Claire County Court after police refused her previous request by claiming the laptop is considered “contraband” due to fentanyl residue found on it.
The laptop had been seized in a police investigation into drug activity that Bawden’s son had apparently been involved in, according to the petition. Her son died in February, which the petition states was the result of his involvement with drugs.
Bawden had purchased the computer, but allowed her son to use it during his time at UW-Stout, the petition stated.
Bawden’s attorney, Harry Hertel of Eau Claire, writes that the computer itself is not contraband because it is not a controlled substance nor could it be used to smoke or inject drugs.
Bawden’s petition asks the police department to wipe the fentanyl off the computer and return it to her.
Included with Bawden’s lawsuit was the July 9 letter she received from the Eau Claire Police Department, which explained to her the legal process for petitioning for the return of the laptop.
That letter states that after filing a petition, the Eau Claire County District Attorney’s Office will be required to prove whether the seized property is actually contraband and should continue to be held as property of the city.