Crooms around and pushed him toward a wall that was five feet away.
The court emphasizes that neither party has presented any evidence that indicates that Mercado intended to push Crooms into the glass window. In fact, Crooms states that Mercado spun him around, grabbed him by his neck and waistline, and pushed him toward the wall that was about five feet away. (12(N) Statement P 8.) Crooms also states that he extended his arms in front of him to prevent his body from hitting the wall and that Mercado pushed him with such force that his right hand went through the window and his left hand hit the wall. (Id. PP 11-12.)
Thus, there is no evidence that Mercado tried to push Crooms such that Crooms' arm would go through the window. Rather, the evidence indicates that Mercado pushed Crooms towards the wall, likely to put handcuffs on him and arrest him, and that Crooms' right arm went through the window because Crooms extended his arms in order to brace himself. Therefore, the fact that Crooms' arm went through the window has no bearing on whether Mercado used excessive force against Crooms, but was merely an unfortunate result of Mercado's use of force.
The court finds that according to Mercado's version of his encounter with Crooms, there is no question that Mercado's use of force against Crooms was reasonable. Mercado was faced with confronting a person who was the subject of a domestic complaint, who refused to leave the residence at the order of a police officer, who threatened a police officer with violence, and who used physical force against a police officer. The court finds that any reasonable police officer in Mercado's position at the time of his encounter with Crooms could have used the same amount and type of force to arrest Crooms for interfering with the officer's duties. That is, Mercado's "actions [were] objectively reasonable in light of the circumstances confronting him." See Graham, 490 U.S. at 395, 109 S. Ct. at 1871; see also Jones, 45 F.3d at 184 (finding that the officer was justified in pushing the arrestee to the ground and placing his knee in the arrestee's back in order "to handcuff the [arrestee] so that he could do no harm" to the officer or to others); Plakas, 19 F.3d at 1149 (stating that the use of force does not have to be the least forceful alternative so long as the use of force is reasonable).
Thus, Crooms could not succeed on his section 1983 claim if the court or any trier of fact found that Mercado's version was the true version. Accordingly, the only way that Crooms could succeed on his section 1983 claim is if the trier of fact were to credit Crooms' version and discredit Mercado's version of the incident.
2. Crooms' version of the incident
According to Crooms' version of the incident, Crooms did not push Mercado in the chest with his hands; rather, Crooms merely brushed Mercado's chest with his finger while turning for his robe. (12(N) Statement PP 7, 19-20.) This claim, however, is inconsistent with Crooms' conviction.
Crooms was charged with and convicted of "resisting the performance of Officer Sabas Mercado of an authorized act within his official capacity ... in that [Crooms] pushed Officer Mercado in the chest with his hand." (12(M) and 12(N) Statements P 38.) The elements of the offense of resisting a peace officer are that a person (1) knowingly (2) resists or obstructs (3) the performance by one known to be a peace officer (4) of any authorized act within his official capacity. 720 ILCS 5/31-1 (1996); see also JOHN F. DECKER, ILLINOIS CRIMINAL LAW § 14.06 (1993). In this case, the authorized act that Crooms was convicted of resisting was Mercado's investigation of a complaint involving Crooms. (12(M) and 12(N) Statements P 38; Trial Tr. at 5, 123-24.) The sole factual basis for the conviction was that Crooms resisted Mercado's investigation by pushing Mercado in the chest. (12(M) and 12(N) Statements P 38; Trial Tr. at 5, 123-24.)
As previously discussed, in order for plaintiff to be successful on his section 1983 claim for excessive force, the trier of fact would have to find that Crooms did not push Mercado but that Crooms merely brushed against Mercado while reaching for his robe. Such a conclusion would have the effect of invalidating Crooms' conviction because it would negate the factual basis of Crooms' conviction and thereby imply that Crooms was wrongfully convicted of resisting a peace officer. Thus, for Crooms to establish the factual basis of his section 1983 claim, he necessarily would have to demonstrate the invalidity of his conviction for resisting an officer. See Heck, 114 S. Ct. at 2369; see also Hudson v. Hughes, 98 F.3d 868, 873 (5th Cir. 1996) (holding that Heck barred a section 1983 plaintiff's claim for excessive force because a finding that the plaintiff's resistance was justified would necessarily undermine the basis of plaintiff's conviction for resisting arrest).
The court notes that it is not always the case that a section 1983 claim for excessive force would necessarily imply the invalidity of a conviction for resisting an officer. See Bemben v. Hunt, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 725, No. 93 C 509, 1995 WL 27223, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Jan 23, 1995) (stating that "plaintiff properly notes that a conviction for resisting arrest is not conclusive with respect to Plaintiff's allegation of excessive force"); Simpson v. City of Pickens, 887 F. Supp. 126, 129 (S.D. Miss. 1995) (holding that Heck did not bar a plaintiff's section 1983 excessive force claim because "it is possible for a finding that [plaintiff] was resisting arrest to coexist with a finding that the police used excessive force to subdue him"); see also Booker v. Ward, 94 F.3d 1052, 1056 (7th Cir. 1996) (explaining that Heck does not bar a number of section 1983 Fourth Amendment claims because such claims do not "inevitably undermine [the] conviction"), cert. denied, U.S. , 117 S. Ct. 952, 136 L. Ed. 2d 840, 1997 U.S. LEXIS 761, 1996 WL 717146 (U.S. 1997); Simpson v. Rowan, 73 F.3d 134, 136 (7th Cir. 1995) (holding that Heck did not bar the plaintiff's section 1983 claim for an illegal search because the claim would not necessarily undermine the plaintiff's conviction for felony murder), cert. denied, U.S. , 136 L. Ed. 2d 58, 117 S. Ct. 104 (1996). However, as explained above, because of the facts of this case, a successful prosecution of Crooms' section 1983 claim would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction for resisting an officer.
Because Crooms' section 1983 claim for damages calls into question the validity of his conviction, which has not been reversed, expunged, or otherwise invalidated, the claim is not cognizable. See Heck, 114 S. Ct. at 2372; Dixon, 101 F.3d at 1230. Accordingly, the court grants summary judgment in favor of defendant Sabas Mercado and against plaintiff Edward Crooms.
The court's foregoing ruling disposes of Mercado's motion for summary judgment and Crooms' case. Accordingly, the court need not address Mercado's excessive force, qualified immunity, and issue preclusion arguments.
For the foregoing reasons, the court grants defendant Sabas Mercado's motion for summary judgment, and enters judgment against plaintiff Edward Crooms and in favor of defendant Sabas Mercado.
Date: MAR 03 1997
JAMES H. ALESIA
United States District Judge