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LOCKHART v. VILLAGE OF RIVERDALE

May 20, 2003

PAMELA LOCKHART, NAPOLEON LOCKHART, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
VILLAGE OF RIVERDALE, FIVE UNKNOWN POLICE OFFICERS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David H. Coar, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Pamela and Napoleon Lockhart ("Plaintiffs") filed a five count Complaint against the Village of Riverdale ("the Village") and five unknown police officers for the damages they allegedly sustained in their interaction with five unknown police officers on February 11, 2001. Counts I and II are based on alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by the unknown police officers and Riverdale. Counts III, IV and V are Illinois state law claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress and false arrest against both the unknown police officers and the Village. Before this court is the Village's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, the Village's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

I. Factual Background

The following facts are taken from the defendant's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Uncontested Facts.*fn1 David Shilling is currently employed by the Village of Riverdale as the Chief of Police and became Chief of Police in 1995. David Shilling was originally hired by the Village of Riverdale Police Department ("Riverdale Police Department") as a patrol officer and was promoted from time to time and held various positions until being promoted to Chief of Police. David Shilling originally became employed with the Riverdale Police Department in 1972. David Shilling has personal knowledge concerning the policies and procedures which are in place in the Village based upon his tenure with the Police Department and the ranks which he has held. The Village has a set policy regarding discipline, use of force, complaints of officer misconduct, and rules which reference specific prohibited acts on the part of police officers.

In order to be eligible for hire with the Riverdale Police Department, all applicants must be certified as police officers in the State of Illinois. Riverdale police officers are required to go through a probationary period when they are first hired as Riverdale police officers in order to learn and familiarize themselves with the Riverdale Police Department rules and regulations. The Riverdale Police Department also conducts courses periodically which police officers are required to attend in order to refresh their understanding relative to rules and regulations of the Riverdale Police Department.

The Riverdale Police Department Rules and Regulations contain various sections. One section of the Rules and Regulations puts the Riverdale police officers on notice with respect to specific prohibited acts which apply to them. The Rules and Regulations specifically provide that police officers are prohibited from engaging in acts which are in violation or attempted violations of any federal, state, county, or municipal law. Riverdale police officers are expected to establish and maintain a working knowledge of laws, policies and procedures, rules and regulations, and the Village of Riverdale General and Special Orders. There is a section of the Riverdale Police Department Rules and Regulations which specifically deals with departmental discipline. That section provides that alleged acts of misconduct on the part of police officers must be investigated, and the results of any such investigation must be reduced to a written report. The Riverdale Police Department also has a specific use of force policy in place which is best described as a use of force continuum providing that police officers are authorized to use only the force which is reasonably necessary.

The Riverdale Police Department has put in place a general order that has been circulated to the police officers which deals specifically with disciplinary guidelines. That particular general order lists recommended discipline to be imposed for various violations. The disciplinary guidelines that have been circulated to the personnel of the Riverdale Police Department are only recommended actions and discipline for violations of laws or rules, and discipline could be more or less severe than the recommended acts, depending on the violation. The Riverdale Police Department has circulated a general order to the Police Department personnel dealing with internal investigations for complaints of officer misconduct. That general order has been in effect since May 2, 1991. The general order dealing with internal investigations states that the policy is to investigate all complaints of alleged officer misconduct and to determine the validity of such complaints in order to take the appropriate action.

All citizen complaints alleging officer misconduct are documented and investigated by the Riverdale Police Department. The Riverdale Police Department has a citizen complaint form that is given to individuals when they make a complaint of officer misconduct.*fn2 Those individuals are also given a pamphlet which explains the Riverdale Police Department's policy relative to citizen complaints against officers. When an individual makes a complaint against a Riverdale police officer, the sergeant on the shift or the most senior police officer on the shift takes the complaint. The citizen complaint is documented regardless of whether the citizen actually signs the complaint or not. After the information is taken down by the sergeant or the most senior police officer, the information is then forwarded to the patrol commander who will fully investigate the incident. The patrol commander investigates all complaints, whether they are deemed minor or major complaints and will do so irrespective of whether the complaint has been signed or not. After the investigation has been completed by the patrol commander, a report is forwarded to the Chief of Police. The Chief then determines what the appropriate course of action is based on the investigation that has been documented and forwarded to his attention. Since 1998, the Riverdale Police Department has received 13 citizen complaints alleging excessive force, false arrest, or unreasonable search or seizure by Riverdale police officers. All of those complaints were investigated and reported to the Chief of Police. Four of those complaints resulted in officers being disciplined for their actions. In all four instances where discipline was imposed, the officers were required to take time off.

In the Complaint, plaintiffs make the following factual allegations. In the evening of February 11, 2003, plaintiff Napoleon Lockhart was outside of his home when he encountered members of the Riverdale police department who were located in his front yard. Mr. Lockhart questioned the police as to what their business was on his property. The officers proceeded to question Mr. Lockhart about his vehicle and subsequently attempted to arrest him. Mr. Lockhart then questioned one of the officers when he attempted to place Mr. Lockhart in handcuffs. Mr. Lockhart pulled his arm away and was subsequently sprayed in the eyes with O.C. spray. Mr. Lockhart then fled into his home and out the back door. The officers attempted to enter the home, which was occupied by Mrs. Lockhart and her three minor children. The police then used force to enter the home from the front and rear entrances. They searched the home and used racial slurs while questioning the family.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)).

The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The party that bears the burden of proof on a particular issue, however, may not rest on its pleadings but must affirmatively demonstrate that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553. A mere scintilla of evidence in support of the non-movant's position is insufficient. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. at 2512. A party will be successful in opposing summary judgment only if it presents "definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion." EEOC v. Roebuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir. 2000). The Court "considers the evidentiary record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor." Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir. 2002). The Court accepts the non-moving party's version of any disputed facts but only if it is supported by relevant, admissible evidence. Bombard v. Fort Wayne Newspapers. Inc., 92 F.3d 560, 562 (7th Cir. 1996).

III. Discussion

Napoleon Lockhart seeks damages against the unknown police officers under the federal claim for the manner and method of his arrest on February 11, 2001. Pamela Lockhart seeks damages under the federal claim for the manner and method in which the unknown officers entered her home on the above date. Both plaintiffs seek damages against the Village of Riverdale for its alleged unconstitutional custom, policy or practice of failing to properly instruct, supervise, control and discipline its officers. The Village of Riverdale moves for summary judgment on the federal claim against ...


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