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MUNCIE, Ind. — A federal lawsuit has been filed by three people claiming they were targeted by Muncie police at the behest a city councilwoman.

Earlier this year, accusations surfaced by Kristopher Bilbery and Audie Barber that Muncie City Councilwoman Nora Powell had something to do with the fact that Muncie police officers had run illegal background checks on both of them.

Blbery is the owner and operator of a local podcast in Muncie and told WISH-TV his background was run twice by officers after he had submitted a public records request for a government matter that was connected to Powell. Not long after that, Barber, a former political opponent of Powell’s, said his background was checked after he had appeared on Bilbery’s podcast.

“Weaponizing police officers to silence critics, weaponizing police officers to intimidate or harass is never okay,” Bilbery said.

Both Bilbery and Barber are suing Powell, the city of Muncie and five police officers, one of which is Powell’s son. Sarah Beach, another former political opponent of Powell’s, has also added her name to the lawsuit.

“I believe I was looked up because I was a former political opponent of Nora Powell,” Beach said. “I think it’s huge abuse of power and huge abuse of public trust. It’s just not right.”

All three are not sure if it was Powell who directed the police officers to run the background checks or if the officers took it upon themselves because they support Powell.

“Of course, I don’t condone that. I didn’t ask for that,” Powell said to WISH-TV back in August. “I wasn’t involved in any way, shape or form…I’m just going to say that I did not know about that beforehand. I found out about that months later.”

In a statement released Monday, Powell said, “the allegations asserted against me are just that; allegations. I will aggressively defend against these baseless and groundless accusations and will demonstrate the complaint is without merit.”

The lawsuit is asking for punitive and compensatory damages.