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Evans v. City of Chicago

January 6, 2006

RONNIE EVANS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 00 C 7222-Robert W. Gettleman, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Coffey, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED NOVEMBER 10, 2004

Before COFFEY, RIPPLE and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

On the evening of March 22, 1997, Frankie Ann Perkins, age 37, died following an altercation with two Chicago Police Officers who were allegedly attempting to restrain her while taking her into custody. Ronnie Evans, who resided next door to the vacant lot on Chicago's west side where Perkins died, claims to have witnessed the entire event. In a television news interview taped the next day, Evans announced his version of the events surr unding Perkins' death and in doing so publicly accused the two officers involved of murdering Perkins. In the months that followed, Evans claims he was systematically harassed, intimidated and retaliated against by a number of Chicago Police Officers who acted in a concerted effort to intimidate and coerce him into changing his story as to the circumstances surrounding Perkins' death.

On November 16, 2000, Evans filed a five count complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the City of Chicago ("City") and eight individual Chicago Police officers.*fn1 Evans' initial complaint, along with a first amended complaint, were dismissed in part, and a second amended complaint was thereafter filed*fn2 alleging inter alia that: the named officers violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 42 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq.; the officers and the City violated his First Amendment right to free speech, 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the officers and the City violated Illinois law by maliciously prosecuting him; and that the officers and the City also violated Illinois law by intentionally inflicting emotional distress upon him. See Evans v. City of Chicago, No. 00-C-7222, 2003 WL 22232963 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 26, 2003). Following discovery, the City filed a motion for summary judgment, which the district court granted, finding that Evans' RICO claim failed as a matter of law because he lacked standing and his § 1983 and Illinois common law claims were barred by the applicable statutes of limitations, 735 ILCS 5/13-202 and 745 ILCS 10/8-101. Affirmed.

I. BACKGROUND

At approximately 9:00 p.m. on the evening of March 22, 1997, Ronnie Evans and his cousin, Anthony Gray, were alerted by what they described as flashing colored lights that seemed to be coming from the vicinity of the vacant lot next door to Evans' residence at 3340 West Van Buren street in Chicago, Illinois. Evans claims that, after noticing the flashing lights, he and Gray went to a window on the second floor of the house to determine what the commotion was. Once at the window, Evans witnessed two persons, whom he later identified as Officers Hofer and McCarthy, struggling with a woman, whom he later recognized as his cousin, Frankie Perkins. One of the officers allegedly had his hands around Perkins' neck while the other was struggling to hold her arms behind her back. At some point, the two officers and Perkins fell to the ground and one officer let go of her, while the other officer-who allegedly had his hands around Perkins' neck-fell directly onto Perkins' chest and continued to strangle her. Evans, at that point, presumed that Perkins had passed out or died, because as the officers rolled her over to handcuff her, Perkins was motionless. After Perkins was cuffed, officers allegedly proceeded to drag her unconscious body over to the squad car and unceremoniously lifted and shoved her lifeless body into the back seat of the vehicle. Upon witnessing this, Evans claims he charged out of the house, screaming at the officers "I seen [sic] what you guys did . . . [m]an, you are bogus." While Perkins lay in the back seat of the squad car, Evans overheard the officers radio for ambulance assistance and stated that they failed to perform CPR nor did they make any other attempt to revive Perkins. What's more, when the paramedics did arrive to attend to Perkins, the officers allegedly told them that the area was a crime scene; meaning that they should not attempt to revive the woman.*fn3 Perkins was later examined by the paramedics and determined to be dead.*fn4

The next morning, representatives of ABC Channel 7 visited the neighborhood in order to conduct interviews concerning Perkins' alleged death at the hands of Chicago Police Officers. Evans agreed to, and did, appear on the news that evening. While relating his view of what happened the previous night, Evans publicly accused the two officers involved of murdering his cousin in cold blood.

After the report aired, the CPD's Office of Professional Standards ("OPS") formally launched an investigation into the incident. In an interview conducted on September 2, 1997, Evans related to OPS officers his version of the events that took place on the evening of March 22, 1997, including his opinion that Officers McCarthy and Hofer participated in the choking death of Perkins. Evans along with Perkins' family also lodged complaints with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois as well as the offices of Congressmen Danny Davis and Bobby Rush concerning the incident. In addition, Perkins' family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Chicago and the CPD in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.*fn5 The Perkins family hoped that if the case ever went to trial Evans' would testify as to what he witnessed on March 22nd in order to bolster their case against the city.*fn6

A. Evans' Alleged Harassment

Evans claims that shortly after his appearance on television, he was subjected to a campaign of harassment and terrorization by a number of Chicago Police Officers. Specifically, Evans claims that Officers Joseph McCarthy, Robert Hofer, Robert Bullington, Michael Kozenko, James Hladick, Richard Coyle, Mark Smith and Tony Green*fn7 committed various illegal and unwarranted offenses against him, e.g., allegedly arresting him without probable cause, threatening him and continually confronting him on the street and at his home in an effort to harass and intimidate him. The alleged harassment began in early April 1997-approximately one-and-a-half weeks after the news broadcast-and continued until late December of 1997.*fn8 According to Evans, the reasoning behind this supposed persecution was to keep him quiet and to discourage him from testifying-either in front of the OPS or in federal court in conjunction with Perkins' pending lawsuit-concerning the incident that he witnessed on the evening of March 22, 1997. On the other hand, the officers claim that Evans was a known drug dealer and they were just doing their job by checking up on him and stopping him, when necessary, to ascertain whether he was in possession of, or dealing, illegal drugs.

Indeed, during this time period Evans was arrested on three separate occasions-May 12, 1997, June 8, 1997*fn9 and July 14, 1997-for felony possession of a controlled substance, in violation of 720 ILCS 570/402.*fn10 On each occa- sion, Evans claims he was arrested without cause and that he was mistreated by police officers. For instance, Evans claims that when he was arrested on May 12, 1997,*fn11 officers proceeded to kick, punch and otherwise abuse him after chasing him into his house.*fn12 In addition, Evans claims that after being arrested and transported to the 11th District Police Station, officers resumed beating him in the parking lot before taking him inside the station house and forcing him to strip naked in front of a female detainee. After being allowed to dress, Evans alleges that the officers "paraded" him through the police station, announcing to other officers that he was "the one that was on T.V." and informing them that they should "lock his ass up" whenever they encountered him.*fn13

Throughout the summer and fall of 1997, Evans saw fit to fail to appear in Cook County Court on numerous occasions relating to the drug charges brought against him during the summer, i.e., his May 12, 1997, June 8, 1997 and July 14, 1997 arrests, and by December of 1997, Evans had five warrants pending for his arrest. At some point in early December 1997, in order to avoid apprehension, Evans decided to turn himself into Judge Haberkorn, the Cook County Circuit Court Judge handling all of his criminal cases. Judge Haberkorn ordered a deputy to immediately transport him to the Cook County Jail at 26th and California, where he remained until March 17, 2000, approximately 28 months in all.

B. Criminal Court Proceedings Against Evans

In October of 1998, Evans' attorney filed two motions to suppress evidence, both concerning his July 14, 1997, arrest.*fn14 The circuit court judge heard testimony on the motions on three dates between October 1998 and February 1999, but did not rule on them immediately.

Subsequently, on January 14, 2000,*fn15 the State of Illinois voluntarily withdrew one of the charges pending against Evans, a violation of probation charge that the State had filed on June 10, 1997, relating back to a 1996 conviction Evans had incurred for possession of a controlled substance. See supra p. 6 n.9. The State's Attorney's office felt that because Evans had served the maximum amount of jail time on his 1996 possession of a controlled substance conviction while awaiting trial, the violation of probation charge was, in effect, moot. Shortly thereafter the State moved the Circuit Court to order that the probation charge had been resolved as "PTU" or "probation terminated unsatisfactory." The Circuit Court granted the motion, issuing an order reflecting that Evans had indeed violated his probation, but not reaching the merits of the charge.

On February 25, 2000, Evans' motions to suppress concerning his July 14, 1997 arrest were argued and denied. That afternoon, a short bench trial was held on the July 14, 1997 charge, and Evans was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance and sentenced to one year of probation, probation terminated instanter. With the July 14, 1997 possession of a controlled substance charge resolved, the State then entered into talks with Evans in an attempt to deal with the two remaining pending charges against him, the May 12, 1997 and June 8, 1997 possession of a controlled substance charges. The State's Attorney approached Evans with a plea bargain, whereby Evans could plead guilty to one of the charges and the State would seek the minimum punishment for that crime, four years in prison, and move to nolle prosequi the other charge. Evans agreed, and on March 12, 2000 pled guilty to the June 8, 1997 charge. Thereafter, the State, pursuant to the ...


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