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Meeks v. City of Alton Police Dep't

February 5, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge


Plaintiff, an inmate in the Centralia Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides, in pertinent part:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Upon careful review of the complaint and any supporting exhibits, the Court finds that none of the claims in the complaint may be dismissed at this point in the litigation.


Plaintiff states that on February 13, 2005, City of Alton, Illinois, Police Officers used excessive force in arresting him, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. When Defendant Warlick arrived at Plaintiff's home after a domestic dispute call, he directed an unnamed officer to "taser" Plaintiff, who was lying naked in his bed and not resisting arrest. Defendant Warlick and two unnamed officers handcuffed Plaintiff, took him outside, and "dropped [him] in the mud." Defendant Warlick told Plaintiff that he was going to "teach [him] a lesson." Defendant Warlick then drew his gun and hit Plaintiff in the eye with it. The unknown officers punched and kicked Plaintiff in the face. Defendant Warlick then ordered the unknown officers to "tase" Plaintiff, which they did repeatedly. Plaintiff states that he was "tased" so many times that he fell unconscious, and upon arrival at the police station, he could not walk without assistance. Defendant Warlick and the unknown officers dragged Plaintiff out of the police car and told him that if he said anything about his treatment upon arrest, "that it would happen again." Plaintiff was placed in a cell and given no medical treatment for his injuries. The next day he was transferred to the Madison County Jail where he received medical treatment. After he was placed in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, he received an examination by an optometrist, who told him that his optic nerve was irreversibly damaged in the beating.


Claims of excessive force during an arrest are analyzed under the Fourth Amendment's "reasonableness" standard. See Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989). In determining the reasonableness of the force used, a Court will consider the facts and circumstances of the case, the severity of the crime at issue, the threat posed by the suspect to the safety of the officers or others, and whether the suspect was attempting to resist or evade arrest. The objective reasonableness of the officers' response will be based upon the information the officers had at the time of the arrest. See Lawrence v. Kenosha County, 391 F.3d 837, 843 (7th Cir. 2004). Based on these standards, Plaintiff's claims of excessive force by Defendant Warlick and the other unknown officer during his arrest cannot be dismissed at this time.

The Court notes, however, that Plaintiff has not stated a claim against the City of Alton Police Department. In order to obtain section 1983 relief against a municipality, a plaintiff must allege that the constitutional deprivations were the result of an official policy, custom, or practice of the municipality or municipal department. See Monell v. Dept. of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978); Forman v. Richmond Police Dept., 104 F.3d 950, 965 (7th Cir. 1997). Accordingly, the City of Alton Police Department is DISMISSED as a defendant from the action.


IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff shall complete and submit a USM-285 form for Defendants Warlick and John Does within THIRTY (30) DAYS of the date of entry of this Memorandum and Order. The Clerk is DIRECTED to send Plaintiff 3 USM-285 forms with Plaintiff's copy of this Memorandum and Order. Plaintiff is advised that service will not be made on ...

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