Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

HAMILTON v. THEZAN

March 9, 1989

DERRICK HAMILTON, Plaintiff,
v.
LAWRENCE THEZAN and JOHN FITZSIMMONS, Defendants


Milton I. Shadur, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHADUR

MILTON I. SHADUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 Derrick Hamilton ("Hamilton") has sued City of Chicago police officers Lawrence Thezan ("Thezan") and John Fitzsimmons ("Fitzsimmons") under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 ("Section 1983"), alleging the officers had deprived Hamilton of his liberty in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Both defendants have moved for summary judgment. *fn1" For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order, their motion is granted.

 Facts2

 In the early morning hours of January 30, 1986 *fn3" Warren Guardipee ("Guardipee") was shot and killed on the upper platform of the Granville elevated station ("el station" or simply "el") in Chicago. Detective Bernard Richter ("Richter") was immediately assigned to the investigation, and he proceeded to interview two witnesses.

 Enoch Ross ("Ross") told Richter he had been waiting in the Granville el station at ground level when a black male approached him and threatened to take his gym shoes. Then a second black male approached, told the first man not to bother with a "brother" (Ross too was black) and said they should find a white guy. Two more black males then entered the station and all four went upstairs to the platform. Ross heard a gunshot, then saw all four run downstairs and out of the station. On his way out the second man told Ross to get out, then dropped a gun, picked it up and left. Ross went up to the el platform and saw Guardipee lying there.

 Gary Simmerling ("Simmerling") told Richter he had been outside the Granville el station when he heard a gunshot. He looked into the station and saw four black males, one of whom picked up a gun, running out of the station.

 Simmerling recognized the one with the gun as a member of the Black Gangster Disciples street gang. Based on that information, Simmerling and later Ross were shown photographs of members of that gang. Each identified a photograph of "Reggie Theus" (whose real name was Kelsey Bell) as the man with the gun. However, when Bell was placed in a lineup on January 31, neither witness could make an identification.

 On the evening of January 31 an unexpected breakthrough in the Guardipee case came when Jerry Graham ("Graham") was arrested on unrelated charges. Graham, possibly to help his own cause, volunteered information to the police about events of the preceding day. According to Graham, at 3:30 a.m. January 30 he had been in the apartment of his girl friend Vickie Ruffetti ("Ruffetti") when a loud knock on the back door broke a pane of glass. *fn4" When Graham got to the door he met Hamilton and Eugene Williams ("Williams"), who excitedly said they had just shot a man at the Granville el. Graham later repeated the same story at least three more times. He was also able to tell the police, in the early morning hours of February 1, where Williams and Hamilton could be found.

 Based on Graham's information and identification, the police located and arrested Williams (at Ruffetti's apartment) and Hamilton the morning of February 1. Williams and Hamilton were brought to the Area 6 Violent Crimes Office, where Ross and Simmerling identified both as being at the scene of the crime. Ross identified Hamilton as the one who said not to bother the "brother," and both Ross and Simmerling identified Hamilton as the one who retrieved the gun while fleeing the station.

 Ruffetti was interviewed by Richter and confirmed Graham's story as to the events in her apartment on the morning of January 30. Hamilton, however, told Richter he was at home with his mother at the time of the crime. Mrs. Hamilton would not confirm that story, at least not on February 1.

 Based on Richter's interviews and on his own personal interviews with Ross, Simmerling, Graham, Williams and Hamilton, Assistant State's Attorney ("ASA") Roberts ("Roberts") approved murder charges against Williams and Hamilton on February 1. That evening Williams and Hamilton went before a judge on probable cause and bond hearings. Those hearings resulted in findings of probable cause and the setting of a bond ($ 2 million) that neither suspect could post. Both were taken to Cook County Jail.

 On February 7 Anthony Benjamin ("Benjamin") and his brother William came voluntarily to the police station because they knew they were being sought by the police for questioning about the Guardipee murder. At 7 p.m. defendants entered the picture when they conducted a lineup during which Ross identified Benjamin as the one who threatened to take his gym shoes in the el station. Defendants then arrested Benjamin on murder charges. During the ensuing interview they told Benjamin he had been identified in the lineup. They say Benjamin refused to talk to them and no physical beating or coercion took place. Hamilton claims, though, that Benjamin was physically abused by defendants, resulting in a coerced statement implicating Hamilton. *fn5"

 Either way, ASA Mottweiler ("Mottweiler") then interviewed Benjamin outside defendants' presence. Benjamin gave a written statement to Mottweiler, who then approved murder charges against Benjamin. Some time later Benjamin also spoke with Richter. Both Richter and Mottweiler swear Benjamin mentioned nothing about a beating, and Richter did not remember seeing any evidence of such beating (not that he performed any physical examination of Benjamin).

 On February 24 Ross and Graham testified before a grand jury on a "John Doe" murder investigation (that is, no indictment was then sought). Later that day Richter testified before the same grand jury on the murder investigation specifically directed against Williams, Hamilton and Benjamin. Richter testified as to Benjamin's statement implicating all three and as to Ross' identification of Hamilton. At that point the grand jury returned a true bill indicting Hamilton and the others.

 Some 20 months later (on October 13, 1987) Benjamin recanted his testimony implicating Hamilton (and Williams). Six days later he testified to the grand jury that Calvin Binion had pulled the trigger. At that point the charges against Hamilton were dropped, and he was released nearly 21 months after his initial incarceration.

 Contentions of the Parties

 Hamilton charges defendants' unlawful conduct (the asserted coercion of Benjamin) deprived Hamilton of his liberty in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (Complaint para. 25). *fn6" His claimed scenario is that defendants did not have sufficient evidence to indict him for murder (id. para. 13), so they abused Benjamin to coerce him to give a false statement implicating Hamilton (id. paras. 11-15). Hamilton also asserts defendants knew Benjamin's statement was false, yet allowed it to be presented to the grand jury. *fn7"

 Defendants' summary judgment motion rests on several grounds:

 
1. Hamilton has no standing to assert the claimed constitutional violation.
 
2. Defendants' conduct did not cause any injury to Hamilton because:
 
(a) Probable cause for his arrest existed on ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.