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BOOKER v. KELLY

October 13, 1995

CHARLES BOOKER, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES WARD and THOMAS KELLY, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HART

 Plaintiff Charles Booker claims that defendants Thomas Kelly and James Ward, Chicago police detectives, lacked probable cause when, on August 7, 1987, they arrested him for the murder of Lucy Williams. An Illinois court so held in Booker's criminal prosecution, see People v. Booker, 209 Ill. App. 3d 384, 568 N.E.2d 211, 218, 154 Ill. Dec. 211 (1st Dist. 1991) ("Booker I"). The Appellate Court remanded the case for a hearing on whether Booker's confession to the murder after his arrest was admissible. In a second appeal, after the trial court held that it was, the Appellate Court again reversed, holding the confession was obtained as a result of the unlawful arrest. People v. Booker, No. 92-0956, unpublished (1st Dist. 1994) ("Booker II"). Defendants were not parties to that case, and it is undisputed that they are not bound by the Appellate Court holdings. See Kraushaar v. Flanigan, 45 F.3d 1040, 1050-51 (7th Cir. 1995); Booker v. Ward, 888 F. Supp. 869, 877 (N.D. Ill. 1995).

 This case is complicated by the question of whether the defendants, rather than other officers, can be responsible or liable for the arrest of plaintiff if that arrest occurred before they formally placed him under arrest. The questions to be resolved are whether factual issues exist (1) with respect to defendants' responsibility for plaintiff's arrest before 5:00 p.m. on August 7, 1987 as well as (2) the existence of probable cause to formally arrest plaintiff, and, in any event, (3) whether qualified immunity applies to defendants' conduct with respect to the arrest of plaintiff.

 On a motion for summary judgment, the entire record is considered with all reasonable inferences drawn in favor of the nonmovant and all factual disputes resolved in favor of the nonmovant. Oxman v. WLS-TV, 846 F.2d 448, 452 (7th Cir. 1988); Jakubiec v. Cities Service Co., 844 F.2d 470, 471 (7th Cir. 1988). The burden of establishing a lack of any genuine issue of material fact rests on the movant. Id. at 473. The nonmovant, however, must make a showing sufficient to establish any essential element for which he will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). The movant need not provide affidavits or deposition testimony showing the nonexistence of such essential elements. Id. at 324. Also, it is not sufficient to show evidence of purportedly disputed facts if those facts are not plausible in light of the entire record. See Covalt v. Carey Canada, Inc., 950 F.2d 481, 485 (7th Cir. 1991); Collins v. Associated Pathologists, Ltd., 844 F.2d 473, 476-77 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 852, 102 L. Ed. 2d 110, 109 S. Ct. 137 (1988). As the Seventh Circuit has summarized:

 
The moving party bears the initial burden of directing the district court to the determinative issues and the available evidence that pertains to each. "[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); id. at 325 ("the burden on the moving party may be discharged by 'showing'--that is, pointing out to the district court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case"). Then, with respect to issues that the non-moving party will bear the burden of proving at trial, the non-moving party must come forward with affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or admissions and designate specific facts which establish that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324. The non-moving party cannot rest on the pleadings alone, but must designate specific facts in affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories or admissions that establish that there is a genuine triable issue. Id. The non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party]." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).

 Selan v. Kiley, 969 F.2d 560, 564 (7th Cir. 1992).

 Plaintiff brings a false arrest claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In order to succeed on this claim, the burden is on plaintiff to prove that he was arrested without probable cause. In determining whether there was probable cause for an arrest, it must be considered

 
whether "the facts and circumstances within the officer['s] knowledge and of which [he] had reasonably trustworthy information were sufficient to warrant a prudent person in believing that an offense has been committed." Hughes v. Meyer, 880 F.2d 967, 969 (7th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 495 U.S. 931, 110 S. Ct. 2172, 109 L. Ed. 2d 501 (1990). "Probable cause requires more than bare suspicion, but need not be based on evidence sufficient to support a conviction, nor even a showing that the officer's belief is more likely true than false." Id.

 Maltby v. Winston, 36 F.3d 548, 556 (7th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 132 L. Ed. 2d 827, 115 S. Ct. 2576 (1995). Accord United States v. Garza-Hernandez, 623 F.2d 496, 499 (7th Cir. 1980). "Probable cause requires only a probability or substantial chance of criminal activity, not an actual showing of such activity." United States v. Gilbert, 45 F.3d 1163, 1166 (7th Cir. 1995) (quoting Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 244 n.13, 76 L. Ed. 2d 527, 103 S. Ct. 2317 (1983)). Accord Gramenos v. Jewel Cos., 797 F.2d 432, 439 (7th Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 481 U.S. 1028, 95 L. Ed. 2d 525, 107 S. Ct. 1952 (1987). "In recognition of the endless scenarios confronting police officers in their daily regimen, courts evaluate probable cause 'not on the facts as an omniscient observer would perceive them but on the facts as they would have appeared to a reasonable person in the position of the arresting officer --seeing what he saw, hearing what he heard.'" Sheik-Abdi v. McClellan, 37 F.3d 1240, 1246 (7th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1128, 130 L. Ed. 2d 882, 115 S. Ct. 937 (1995) (quoting Mahoney v. Kesery, 976 F.2d 1054, 1057 (7th Cir. 1992)).

 Although considered subjectively in terms of the facts the officer would have had before him or her, whether those facts constituted probable cause is an objective standard based on a reasonable police officer; whether the police officer actually believed he or she had probable cause or had other motives (good or bad) for arresting the person are not considerations. Sheik-Abdi, 37 F.3d at 1247; Mark v. Furay, 769 F.2d 1266, 1269 (7th Cir. 1985); United States v. Marin, 761 F.2d 426, 432 (7th Cir. 1985) (citing United States v. Prim, 698 F.2d 972, 975 (9th Cir. 1983)).

 Drawing all reasonable inferences and resolving all disputes in plaintiff's favor, the facts are as follows. On the morning of August 7, 1987, Lucy Williams's body was found behind 7108 South Cottage Grove in the City of Chicago. Ward and Kelly were assigned to investigate and arrived at the scene at 8:45 a.m. Williams's body was alongside her car with the car door open. She was in business attire, but her pants and underwear were pulled down to her ankles and a car mat covered her groin area. Her purse was not in her car or near her body and was not located during the initial investigation. Williams had been beaten extensively about the head and blood was splattered in the car, alongside it, and on one side of the car. There was a tooth on the car seat that was never identified.

 The physical evidence indicated that Williams had been beaten for a protracted period of time. It would have been reasonable for the officers to conclude that the physical evidence indicated a crime of passion committed by someone who was angry or in a rage. Also, they could have reasonably concluded that a person who had randomly killed and possibly raped Williams would not have been concerned with her genital area being exposed and therefore would not have covered her groin area with the car mat. Thus, it would also have been reasonable to surmise that the evidence indicated that the killer was someone who knew Williams. There were no bruises in her genital area and no evident semen.

 Given the overkill evident from the numerous head wounds and the lack of bruising in the genital area, a reasonable officer could have concluded that, despite her pants being pulled down, it was unlikely that the assault was sexual in nature, but instead was probably an act of rage by someone who knew Williams and was angry with her. Although the officers could have reasonably concluded from the physical evidence that ...


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