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SAFFOLD v. CITY OF CALUMET PARK

March 30, 1999

DEXTER SAFFOLD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CALUMET PARK, ILLINOIS, OFFICER JOSEPH LUCENTE # 508, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; OFFICER JOHN BECKHAM, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; COMMANDER JEFF KRAFT, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; INVESTIGATOR ROBERT GARRISON, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; SAMUEL RODGERS, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY; JOHN DOE 1 AND JOHN DOE 2, TWO UNIDENTIFIED OFFICERS FROM THE RIVERDALE POLICE FORCE, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; AND THE CITY OF RIVERDALE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ann Claire Williams, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Dexter Saffold ("Saffold") brings this civil rights lawsuit alleging that he was unlawfully arrested and detained on August 27, 1996. Saffold's two-count second amended complaint ("complaint") asserts both federal and state law claims. In count I, Saffold claims that police officers from the City of Calumet Park, Illinois ("Calumet Park") and the City of Riverdale, Illinois ("Riverdale") violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when they arrested and detained him without probable cause. In count II, Saffold asserts that, under the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/2-109 ("Tort Immunity Act"), Calumet Park and Riverdale must pay any settlement or judgment that is entered in his favor against their respective police officers. Pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Calumet Park moves for summary judgment on count II of Saffold's complaint. In a separate motion, Riverdale and its police officer Rodgers jointly move for summary judgment. Rodgers seeks summary judgment on count I against him and Riverdale asks for summary judgment in its favor on count II. For the following reasons, the court (1) denies Calumet Park's motion for summary judgment; and (2) denies Riverdale's and Rodgers' motion for summary judgment.

Background

During a busy lunch hour, early in the afternoon on August 27, 1996, Dexter Saffold ("Saffold") drove to the only Burger King Restaurant in Calumet Park, Illinois and illegally parked his car in the handicapped parking space. Saffold's choice of parking spaces on this particular day turned out to be both unwise and untimely. There also happened to be a police officer from the Calumet Park Police Department ("CPPD") in the same Burger King parking lot.

After observing Saffold take the handicapped parking place and walk away from his car, CPPD officer Joseph Lucente ("Lucente") noticed that Saffold's car did not have a license plate which entitled its driver to use handicapped parking spaces. Lucente also could not see a placard in Saffold's car indicating that Saffold was handicapped. Lucente proceeded to issue a ticket for Saffold's illegally parked car.

Upon returning to his illegally parked car, Saffold found Lucente writing a parking ticket. When Saffold arrived to his car, Lucente asked Saffold to produce his driver's license, but Saffold resisted. Saffold briefly argued with Lucente over why Saffold should have to produce his driver's license for parking his car illegally, but eventually produced the license. However, because Saffold had initially refused to give Lucente his driver's license, Lucente called for back-up from additional CPPD police officers. Within a few minutes, two more CPPD police cars arrived at the Burger King Parking lot — one of the back-up police cars was a marked squad car and the other car was an unmarked car.

Eventually, Lucente issued Saffold the parking ticket and Saffold became visibly upset over receiving the citation. Saffold then got into his car, and, while leaving, squealed the tires of his car three times as he drove out of the parking lot. Upon observing Saffold's driving, CPPD officer John Beckham ("Beckham"), who had arrived in response to Lucente's call for back-up, activated his squad car's emergency lights and stopped Saffold's vehicle. Beckham warned Saffold about his unsafe driving and directed Saffold to leave the parking lot without further incident. Beckham did not issue Saffold a ticket for squealing his tires. Saffold claims that immediately after he left the Burger King parking lot, he returned to his home in Riverdale, Illinois.

Not surprisingly, since Saffold's run-in with the law happened during lunch hour in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant, several people witnessed the events. Saffold has submitted an affidavit in which he states that the Burger King where he parked his car is "located at the intersection of two busy streets." (Saffold Aff. ¶ 3.) Saffold states that "there were numerous individuals, both patrons of the restaurant and passersby, in the area at the time of the events in the parking lot." (Id.) Saffold also says that these events took place "in full view of the patrons entering and leaving the Burger King restaurant, those located in the restaurant, and passersby on the streets and sidewalks surrounding the restaurant and its parking lot." (Id. at 4.) Defendants do not dispute that several individuals were able to observe these events in the parking lot.

Lucente, the officer who issued Saffold the parking ticket, spoke to the other CPPD officers on duty and verified that Saffold was the only person whose vehicle had been stopped in the Burger King parking lot that day. Shortly thereafter, Jeff Kraft ("Kraft") of the CPPD telephoned the Riverdale Police Department ("RPD") and asked for RPD's assistance in arresting Saffold, who CPPD wanted for aggravated assault stemming from a threat to shoot a police officer. Upon receipt of this information, RPD dispatched several police officers to Saffold's house in Riverdale and arrested Saffold pursuant to CPPD's request.

Saffold was held at the Riverdale police station for approximately thirty minutes until CPPD officers Kraft and Garrison arrived and transported Saffold to the Calumet Park police station. Several hours after arriving at the Calumet Park police station, Saffold was charged with aggravated assault based on allegations that he had telephoned the CPPD and threatened to shoot an officer. Although Calumet Park police officers transported Saffold to Markham County Jail, the prison refused to accept Saffold because of his diabetic condition. Saffold was then returned to the Calumet Park police station and released on his own recognizance.

Although Saffold was originally charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct, the state criminal court dismissed the aggravated assault charge, ruling that the threatening phone call did not constitute aggravated assault as a matter of law. The disorderly conduct charge was then amended to a charge of telephone harassment. After several continuances, Saffold's criminal case was dismissed for want of prosecution.

Saffold then brought this civil rights lawsuit alleging that his arrest and detention violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. In count I of his complaint, Saffold alleges that defendant police officers, acting in both their individual and official capacities, violated 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 by arresting and detaining him without probable cause. In count II of his complaint, Saffold asserts that the Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/2-109, requires the cities of Calumet Park and Riverdale to pay any settlement or judgment in Saffold's favor against their respective police ...


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