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HICKOMBOTTOM v. MCGUIRE

May 31, 1991

PAUL HICKOMBOTTOM, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT McGUIRE, THOMAS TANSEY, JAMES KIERSE, WILLIAM MURPHY and JAMES O'CONNELL, Defendants


Brian Barnett Duff, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUFF

BRIAN BARNETT DUFF, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Paul Hickombottom is currently serving a forty-year prison term at Danville Correctional Center in Danville, Illinois, for the robbery and murder of Jose Moreno. He has filed a § 1983 action against the police officers who arrested him for those crimes. The defendants have moved for summary judgment, and provided the court with a statement of uncontested facts in support of that motion, pursuant to Local Rule 12(m). Although Mr. Hickombottom initially failed to respond to the defendants 12(m) statement, he eventually did so at this court's prompting, admitting nearly all the facts offered by the defendants. In fact, Mr. Hickombottom has failed to demonstrate to this court that any material facts are in dispute which would require resolution by a trier of fact. Because the facts propounded by the defendants and admitted by the plaintiff entitle the defendants to judgment as a matter of law, this court grants the defendants' motion for summary judgment.

 Background1

 On February 28, 1986, Jose Moreno was shot in the chest and died. That evening, detectives Robert McGuire and Thomas Tansey were assigned to investigate Mr. Moreno's death. At the scene of the murder, the two detectives met with the remaining three defendants, William Murphy, James O'Connell and James Kierse. The five of them canvassed the neighborhood, and learned that Victor Harris had been standing over Mr. Moreno's body. Accordingly, they went to Mr. Harris' apartment, arrested him, and brought him to the Area 1 police station. At the station, Mr. Harris gave Detective McGuire the following information: Paul Hickombottom and a Tony Chavez paid Mr. Harris for the use of his apartment in order to sell drugs; Mr. Moreno supplied the drugs, and had come to Harris' apartment the evening of his murder, bleeding, and claiming that someone had tried to rob him; Hickombottom told Harris that Oliver Weekly had attempted to rob Moreno and that he and Harris were going to "stick up" Moreno; they obtained a gun, gave it to Weekly, arranged the time and place of the robbery; and then lured Moreno into their trap, where Weekly shot and killed him. Harris, Hickombottom and Weekly then split Moreno's money.

 Also at the station were members of Mr. Moreno's family, who asked Detective McGuire about Moreno's car, which was not found at the scene. McGuire questioned Harris, who stated that Hickombottom had taken the car and left it in front of his apartment building. Harris also told McGuire that the murder weapon was in Hickombottom's apartment, in the nightstand underneath the television in the first bedroom on the left. Harris made all these statements to the police before Hickombottom's arrest. Furthermore, Hickombottom has agreed that Harris' version of events is substantially correct.

 After obtaining Harris' statement, all of the defendants went to Hickombottom's apartment building. They found a car belonging to Moreno's brother parked there and placed it under surveillance. Within five minutes after the defendants arrived at the scene, Hickombottom walked out of the building with his girlfriend, Renee Williams, and another person, Arthur Wyatt. The three of them entered the Moreno car, and started it. At that point, the defendants stopped the car and ordered the group out. Hickombottom gave the detectives a false name and told them the car belonged to Wyatt. Wyatt denied that the car belonged to him, and told the defendants Hickombottom's true name. The defendants arrested Hickombottom, by then it was approximately 3:00 a.m. on the morning of March 1.

 After arresting Hickombottom, detectives McGuire and Tansey knocked on his apartment door. Although no one answered, they heard children crying inside. Ms. Williams had already told them that her and Hickombottom's children were in the apartment, and that she shared the apartment with Hickombottom. *fn2" After failing to gain access to the apartment, the detectives returned to the street, where Hickombottom and Williams remained, and informed Williams that her children were crying and that there was a gun in the apartment. She returned to the apartment with the detectives and let them inside to get the gun.

 McGuire and Tansey found the gun exactly where Harris told them it would be, and left the apartment. They brought Hickombottom to Area 1 headquarters, arriving at approximately 3:30 a.m. Murphy, Kierse and O'Connell remained with Hickombottom at the station for a minute or two, then left. Hickombottom did not see them again.

 Although Hickombottom initially denied his involvement in the murder, by 1:20 p.m. the following afternoon he gave a court-reported statement to an assistant state's attorney. He does not now deny the statement's accuracy. During the course of the statement, he admitted that he shared his apartment with his girlfriend, Ms. Williams.

 Tansey and McGuire last saw Hickombottom shortly after he gave his statement, at 1:20 p.m. Hickombottom "was" turned over (neither of the parties have informed the court by whom, but it apparently wasn't any of the defendants) to the police lockup within six or seven hours after giving his statement -- eighteen hours after his arrest. The Chicago Police Department turned him over to Cook County Jail officials on the morning of March 2, 1986, within thirty-three hours of his arrest.

 Defendants arrested Hickombottom without the benefit of a warrant. The County issued an arrest warrant against him on March 2, however, because he had violated his parole. All court records date Hickombottom's first court appearance on this matter as March 2, 1986. *fn3"

 Hickombottom moved to suppress his statement in a hearing before the Circuit Court of Cook County, arguing that it was coerced because, among other things, he was denied food and water, he was not allowed to sleep and he was subjected to threats and misrepresentations. During the hearing, however, he admitted that he was given food and water once during his detention. The court rejected all his claims and denied the motion to suppress.

 A jury found Hickombottom guilty of felony murder and armed robbery. The court sentenced him to forty years in prison, and Hickombottom is presently serving that sentence at ...


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