The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, SR.
HONORABLE CHARLES R. NORGLE
Before the court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the motion is denied.
This case arose from the suicide of Judith Bragado ("Bragado") in the early morning hours of March 31, 1988 while she was being held in a jail cell at the Zion, Illinois police station.
She had been arrested for disorderly conduct the prior evening near the Zion home of her former boyfriend, Ed DeLara ("DeLara").
Two months earlier, on January 23, 1988, Zion police received a report at 1:54 p.m. of a suicide attempt or possible overdose by Bragado at DeLara's home, where Bragado and DeLara were living together. Police officers David Parker ("Parker") and defendant Robert Levanowich ("Levanowich") answered the call and found Bragado and DeLara wrestling on the kitchen floor. DeLara told the officers that he broke up with Bragado and gave her two weeks to move, whereupon she threatened to kill herself by overdosing on butalbital
pills prescribed to her. According to Parker's police report and Levanowich's deposition, Bragado was upset at the short removal deadline but denied making a suicide attempt and said she had flushed the pills down a toilet.
That evening at 6:38 p.m., Zion police were called back to DeLara's home regarding a possible overdose by Bragado, according to a report by police officer Wayne Brooks. DeLara had earlier asked his bother, Ron DeLara, and Ron DeLara's roommate, Michael Hudnall, to come to the home to help with Bragado. DeLara and Hudnall told Brooks that Bragado had taken four or five butalbital pills. A squad of paramedics and officer Brooks found a semi-coherent Bragado in an upstairs bedroom. Bragado refused treatment and signed a release. She also claimed to be drunk and again said she had flushed the pills down a toilet.
On March 30, 1988, while on patrol, officer Levanowich was twice sent to the area of DeLara's house. The first time was at 5:32 p.m. following a report of a suspicious person, who turned out to be Bragado, sitting in a car on DeLara's block. Bragado told the officer that she was thinking and that she was going to walk through a nearby park. Levanowich noticed a pair of small cuts on Bragado's wrists, which appeared minor and were not bleeding. Bragado, who appeared alert and behaved normally, said she suffered the cuts on her wrists on her job at the Great Lakes Naval Base. In response to repeated questions from Levanowich, Bragado said she did not need any help or anyone with whom she could talk. She then left the area.
Later, at 7:32 p.m., Levanowich was sent back to the area, again finding Bragado sitting in a car. Bragado appeared to be very drunk and sleepy, and Levanowich found five or six empty wine cooler bottles on the grass near the car.
Bragado was verbally abusive toward both Levanowich and defendant officer Don Williamson ("Williamson"), who soon arrived on the scene. Williamson noticed the small cuts on Bragado's wrists. The officers arrested Bragado for disorderly conduct and placed her in a squad car, which Levanowich drove to the Zion police station.
Bragado had left in DeLara's mailbox a blood-stained, handwritten note (attached as Exhibit A), which stated in part: "Ed I will always Love My Life is Over now . . . . Love Judy." Levanowich either retrieved the note or had someone else do so. He read the note shortly after arriving at the police station with Bragado. Levanowich did not consider it a suicide note because it did not specifically state that Bragado would kill herself.
Nonetheless, Levanowich was concerned about the note and discussed it, as well as previous incidents involving Bragado, with the shift commander, defendant Sergeant Morrison ("Morrison").
Levanowich then called the Lake County assistant state's attorney on call, John Kornak, for advice. Kornak, after consulting the law and a victim's assistance counselor in the state's attorney's office, suggested that Bragado either be taken to St. Therese Hospital or held until morning bond court, when the state could request that Bragado be required to seek help as a condition of bond. The police decided to book Bragado for disorderly conduct and hold her.
Two of Bragado's sisters, Sharon Rich and Anita Learsch, upon learning of Bragado's failure to report for work that evening, together called the Zion Police Department sometime between 8:45 and 9:30 p.m. Both spoke with Morrison, while Rich also spoke with Williamson. The sisters expressed concern that Bragado was suicidal and for possible complications from Bragado's prescription pills, and also asked the officers how to obtain Bragado's release. Learsch testified at deposition that she told Morrison that Bragado would kill herself if she was not released. Morrison told Learsch and Rich that he was aware of Bragado's allegedly suicidal condition based on her note to DeLara, the cuts on her wrists, and the previous incidents involving her. According to Learsch, Morrison also ...