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12/28/89 the People of the State of v. Gregory Banks

December 28, 1989





549 N.E.2d 766, 192 Ill. App. 3d 986, 140 Ill. Dec. 115 1989.IL.2041

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Robert L. Sklodowski, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE RIZZI delivered the opinion of the court. FREEMAN, P.J., and WHITE, J., concur.


Defendant is a 21-year-old African-American. He contends that the court erred in denying his motion to suppress his confession because it was procured by police brutality and racial intimidation, and that the court erred in excluding testimony regarding similar coercion of another person by the same police officers.

At the suppression hearing, defendant testified that he was arrested on October 18, 1983, at 8:30 p.m., and taken to the police station. Defendant was taken to an interrogation room and handcuffed to a ring. On the following morning at approximately 2:30 a.m., defendant was taken to another room where he was handcuffed behind his back. Detectives Peter Dignan and Charles Grunhard, and police sergeant John Byrne, interviewed defendant and confronted him with accusations which he persisted in denying. Defendant testified that Byrne put a chrome .45 caliber automatic gun with a brown handle in his mouth and told him that he should blow off his head because he knew what they were talking about. In addition, Byrne struck defendant three or four times across the left side of his chest and stomach with a flashlight while his wrists were handcuffed behind his back. Defendant fell out of the chair, and Grunhard kicked him in his side, stomach and ankle, and hit him on the back of his legs with a flashlight.

When defendant continued to deny knowledge of what the officers were talking about, Dignan said "we have something for niggers," and he put a plastic bag over defendant's head. While the bag was on defendant's head, Grunhard kept kicking him in the stomach and on the left side of his body. Defendant testified that after a minute or two the bag was removed and the three officers left the room.

Approximately 10 minutes later, the three officers returned and asked defendant what he was going to do. Defendant again denied knowledge of the occurrence, and Dignan placed the plastic bag over defendant's head a second time for about two minutes. Thereafter, defendant confessed and informed the officers that the gun that was used in the occurrence was at 56 W. 95th Street in Chicago. At 4:30 a.m., defendant accompanied the officers to that location.

Defendant testified that at 56 W. 95th Street, the officers handcuffed him to a bar on the stairwell, while they recovered a gallon of liquid narcotics from the second-floor landing, and the gun on the roof of the building. According to defendant, he did not try to escape and was neither tackled nor struck after he confessed and the gun was recovered.

During the hearing on the motion to suppress, the State introduced the testimony of eight police officers and an assistant State's Attorney who were involved in investigating the case. All of the State's witnesses denied involvement in or knowledge of defendant being beaten, except Dignan, who testified that he punched defendant several times.

Detective John Gallagher and William Egan testified that they arrested defendant on October 28, 1983, at 8:30 p.m., handcuffed him and took him to the police station. Detective Charles Grunhard testified that he, Byrne and Dignan spoke with defendant at 4:30 a.m. on October 29. Byrne testified that after that conversation, at about 5:30 a.m., Byrne and Dignan took defendant, without handcuffs, to 56 W. 95th Street, where they recovered a gun that was on the roof and a container of liquid narcotics from the second-floor rear porch. Byrne testified that defendant then tried to escape by running down the porch stairs. Defendant was not handcuffed at the time.

According to Bryne, Dignan tackled defendant right at the bottom of the stairs and defendant fell on flat concrete with Dignan on top of him for the most part. Byrne testified that Dignan dove on defendant when he tackled him. Byrne and Dignan then handcuffed defendant. Byrne testified that at no time did he or any detective in his presence strike the defendant. Byrne also testified that he did not specifically recall being accused of participating in a beating with a flashlight and the placing of a plastic bag over the head of another person in September of 1982. Byrne did not make, sign or review any reports relating to the investigation of the present case. However, he may have signed Dignan's injured on duty report.

Dignan completed an injured on duty report reflecting an injury to his left leg from a brief scuffle when defendant attempted to escape, but Dignan failed to report defendant's escape attempt or his or defendant's injuries on any other police report. Although Dignan visited a hospital the day after the incident for the injury to his leg, he did not take any time off from work because of the injury. Dignan testified on direct examination that after defendant attempted to run down the stairs, he grabbed him and they went down the stairs. They wrestled, and defendant was subdued. Defendant was then handcuffed. Dignan also testified on direct examination that at no time did he or any other detective in his presence strike defendant.

On cross-examination, Dignan testified that defendant started running down a set of stairs that was more than 5 but less than 15 stairs. Dignan took a couple of steps down the stairs and grabbed defendant, and they went down onto the next landing. Dignan "more or less tackled him," and they rolled over each other sideways. Dignan testified that they were on the third-floor landing when defendant ran down the stairs, and they ended up on the next landing. Dignan also testified on cross-examination that after he and defendant ended up on the next landing, Dignan "punched him a couple of times." He testified: "I punched him a couple times. I don't know where I punched him. I was just swinging." When Dignan was asked if defendant punched him at that time, Dignan testified: "I got an elbow in the face." Immediately afterward, according to Dignan, defendant was handcuffed. Dignan also testified that it was very possible that he placed the handcuffs on defendant rather tightly at that time, and that defendant might have complained about the handcuffs being too tight at the scene or on the way back to the station. Dignan did not recall anyone raising similar allegations of coercion against him or Byrne.

Detective Robert Dwyer testified that he spoke with defendant at 11:30 p.m. on October 29, 1983, and was present the following morning at 3:20 a.m. when defendant gave a confession statement to Assistant State's Attorney Dean Bastounes and a court reporter. This statement was given approximately 31 hours after defendant was arrested. According to Bastounes, defendant did not complain that he had been threatened, beaten or mistreated by the ...

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