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September 10, 1992

CRAIG M. YATTONI, Plaintiff,
OAKBROOK TERRACE, a Municipal Corporation; Detective MICHAEL De LAURENTIS; CITY OF WAUKEGAN, a Municipal Corporation; Detective LOU TESSMAN, #531, Defendants.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: MILTON I. SHADUR


 Police from the Chicago suburbs of Oakbrook Terrace and Waukegan arrested Craig Yattoni ("Yattoni") for crimes that he did not commit. Yattoni has sued both municipalities and the individual officers responsible for the arrests, claiming under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") that the arrests violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures. *fn1" Oakbrook Terrace and its Detective Michael De Laurentis ("DeLaurentis"), collectively "Oakbrook Defendants," now move for summary judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. ("Rule") 56. *fn2" For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order, their motion is granted.


 Lori Nawa and her five-month old baby left the Venture store in Oakbrook Terrace at 9:30 p.m. on May 16, 1990. *fn3" She walked to her car and leaned over to put the baby in a carseat. As she did so a man approached her from the rear, put a knife to her chest and demanded her purse (O.D. 12(m) P 6). After he allowed Nawa to put the baby down, he grabbed the purse from her hand and ran (id. P 7 and Y. 12(n) P 7).

 Nawa saw her assailant face to face during part of the robbery. She also saw him from the side as he took her purse, and she watched him as he ran toward his car (O.D. 12(m) P 8; Nawa Dep. 42). It is not clear how good a view of his face Nawa had as he fled. His car was "a couple lanes down" in the lot but was visible to Nawa because, like hers, it was parked under a light (id.).

 Police arrived on the scene shortly. To them Nawa described her assailant as being between 25 and 30 years of age, 6' to 6' 3" tall, weighing 180 to 185 pounds, with receding reddish-blond hair, a thin build and fair skin (O.D. 12(m) and Y. 12(n) P 11). Interviewed the next day by DeLaurentis, Nawa recalled a slightly younger and marginally slimmer criminal: 170 to 180 pounds, aged 19 to 25, with "wavy" hair (O.D. 12(m) and Y. 12(n) P 12).

 DeLaurentis also showed Nawa some photographs of automobiles. She picked out a four-door white Dodge Aries K-car as most similar to her assailant's car. DeLaurentis and Officer Wayne Holakovsky ("Holakovsky") distributed a description of the robbery, car and offender to neighboring police departments by computer (O.D. 12(m) PP 13-14).

 On May 18 DeLaurentis accompanied Nawa to the DuPage County Sheriff's Department. There Nawa assisted a department artist in the preparation of an Identi-Kit sketch of the man who held her up. This time Nawa shaved a few more years off her assailant's age--he was now reported as 19 to 22, not 25, and only 6 feet tall. Otherwise her description of the man and the car was consistent with what she had told DeLaurentis the day before (O.D. 12(m) P 15; Yattoni Ex. 10).

 At the time of the incident Yattoni did not quite conform to any of the varying descriptions. Instead he was 19 years old, 5' 10" tall and weighed 150 pounds (Y. Supp. 12(n) P 1).

 Detective Ed Vaughan ("Vaughan") of Darien read a newspaper article about the Nawa holdup that included a description of the robber (Vaughan Dep. 76). On May 25 he called Holakovsky to relate that he was investigating the theft of a four-door white Plymouth Reliant, a car virtually identical to the K-car identified by Nawa. On May 19 an armed robber in Waukegan, with a physical description "similar" to the man who robbed Nawa, had used that stolen car to flee from a knifepoint robbery.

 Indeed, the same car was reportedly used in other area crimes as well (O.D. 12(m) P 16(a), (b), (c), (e); Y. 12(n) P 16(c))--a series of crimes that this opinion will refer to as the "K-car robberies". Those crimes began with the theft of the white Plymouth Reliant from Darien on April 3, and they continued the same day with a theft from a store and a theft of gasoline (Y. Supp. 12(n) PP 13-17). Next came the Nawa robbery on May 16. Armed robberies occurred in both Schaumburg and West Dundee the next day, followed by the Waukegan robbery on May 19 (id. PP 18-20). Each of the three armed robberies involved a white K-car, a female victim and the use of a knife to force the surrender of property (id. P 21).

 Vaughan told Holakovsky that he was investigating two suspects, Yattoni and Joseph Severino ("Severino"). In 1989 Yattoni and Severino had been involved in an auto theft with a third person whose family owned the white K-car now suspected of being used in the armed robberies. That earlier theft did not involve the white K-car (O.D. 12(m) and Y. 12(n) P 16(d)).

 Holakovsky then obtained black-and-white photos of Yattoni and Severino from the DuPage County Sheriff's department. About June 1, 1990 DeLaurentis staged a photographic presentation at Nawa's house, showing her pictures of Yattoni and five other white males (O.D. 12(m) 18; DeLaurentis Dep. 42-43). Severino was not included in the photospread because his photograph was "substantially dissimilar" to the description given by Nawa (O.D. 12(m) P 18; DeLaurentis Dep. 126)--a point that Yattoni apparently admits, though he denies that his own photograph resembled the description (Y. 12(n) P 18).

 At Nawa's house DeLaurentis produced a folder of pictures and sat quietly while Nawa studied them. She tentatively identified Yattoni as her assailant (Nawa Dep. 56):

 But there was another guy that I was unsure of that maybe had some of the same, a few characteristics the same and I wasn't really a hundred percent sure. But I questioned it a little bit, but I had picked out Yattoni more. I said this [picture of Yattoni] looks like it but there's a little question that it was someone else.

 Nawa complained that the black-and-white photos left her unable to judge hair color or skin tone. At DeLaurentis' suggestion she agreed to review a second photospread using color pictures (id. 56-57; O.D. 12(m) P 19).

 Through the DuPage County State's Attorney, DeLaurentis then obtained a grand jury subpoena commanding Yattoni to appear at Oakbrook Terrace police headquarters for the taking of a color photograph. He and Holakovsky tried but failed to serve the subpoena on Yattoni at home on June 1 (O.D. 12(m) and Y. 12(n) PP 21-22).

 On May 31 Waukegan police obtained a warrant for Yattoni's arrest on charges resulting from the armed robbery in that community (Y. Supp. 12(n) P 37). *fn4" DeLaurentis agreed to serve the Waukegan warrant at the request of the Waukegan police (O.D. 12(m) P 23).

 DeLaurentis says that he did not learn about the positive ID of Yattoni in Waukegan until June 1, nor did he learn about the Waukegan warrant until June 3 (Y. 12(n) P 31). But Yattoni claims that DeLaurentis knew about the Waukegan warrant before he obtained the grand jury subpoena for the color photo, "and had already agreed to execute the Waukegan warrant and work with Waukegan on this" (Y. 12(n) P 23). That argument is part of a larger attack on DeLaurentis' credibility, which is not properly resolved at this stage of the litigation. *fn5" Nothing in the record, however, suggests that DeLaurentis is lying about this particular issue.

 On June 5 Yattoni voluntarily surrendered to the Oakbrook Terrace police on the Waukegan warrant. During Yattoni's processing DeLaurentis noted a physical resemblance to the description given by Nawa (O.D. 12(m) P 25). *fn6"

 Yattoni maintains that DeLaurentis put him through a rough one-on-one interrogation (Y. Supp. 12(n) PP 46-50), which DeLaurentis denies. In particular, Yattoni says that DeLaurentis forced him to reveal his place of employment. DeLaurentis denies ever learning where Yattoni worked (DeLaurentis Dep. 121, 124, 177). But his own June 5 arrest report on Yattoni correctly says that Yattoni worked at Ejector Systems in Addison (Yattoni Ex. U). This opinion therefore credits Yattoni's version of the interrogation.

 At that time the Oakbrook Terrace police took color photos of Yattoni for use in a second photospread to be viewed by Nawa later that day (O.D. 12(m) and Y. 12(n) PP 26-27). Nawa immediately identified Yattoni when she viewed the different photos (O.D. 12(m) P 28). *fn7" So far as is known, only Yattoni's photograph appeared in both photospreads. But the lack of any other repeat players evidently did not influence Nawa's selection at all (Nawa Dep. 58):

 As soon as [DeLaurentis] put the folder out [Yattoni] stood out and then I looked at him first and then I saw all the others. So once I saw him, I didn't really study the other ones.

 On June 8 a judicial warrant for Yattoni's arrest in the Nawa case was issued by a judge of the Circuit Court for DuPage County (Answer Ex. A). During the next 19 days DeLaurentis spoke with Yattoni's father several times. One of those conversations took place on June 15, the date of yet another K-car robbery in Arlington Heights. DeLaurentis told Yattoni pere that he knew Yattoni fils had not committed the Arlington Heights robbery (Y. Supp. 12(n) P 52; Yattoni Ex. J). He also confessed to "serious doubts" about the case against Craig (id.). It is unclear from the record whether that remark applied to the Arlington Heights robbery alone, the Nawa robbery or the whole spate of K-car robberies.

 DeLaurentis does not even admit that the conversations with Lyle Yattoni took place. However, under Rule 56 this opinion must credit Yattoni's version, and it must also grant the reasonable inference that DeLaurentis doubted the strength of his own case against Yattoni.

 At his deposition DeLaurentis repeatedly denied any knowledge of the Arlington Heights robbery before he executed the Oakbrook Terrace arrest warrant (DeLaurentis Dep. 95-96, 123). Yet Vaughan's records reflect a call from DeLaurentis on June 15, advising that he had just heard a radio report of the Arlington Heights robbery (Yattoni Ex. T). Arlington Heights police records also reflect a call about the incident from DeLaurentis (id. Ex. $ at 18).

 On June 27 Yattoni voluntarily surrendered on the Oakbrook Terrace arrest warrant (O.D. 12(m) and Y. 12(n) P 33). DeLaurentis explains the delay in executing the warrant by noting that he was sick for a few days; that he is the only detective in town and had other cases to handle; and that Yattoni's attorney had promised that Yattoni would turn himself in upon request (Y. Supp. 12(n) P 68; DeLaurentis Dep. 123). Yattoni spent half an hour at the ...

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