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Taylor v. City of Chicago

March 18, 2008

DONTA TAYLOR, A MINOR BY HIS MOTHER AND GUARDIAN JUANITA TAYLOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, JEFFREY CHEVALIER, AND DANIEL GOOSHERST, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Blanche M. Manning

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Danto Taylor raced his friend on their bicycles on a summer day in July 2006. One of the houses they passed belonged to Federico Rivera, who was crouching down in his front yard doing yard work. While Rivera was crouched over, a boy hit him in the face and then ran away. A short time later, defendant police officers Jeffrey Chevalier and Daniel Goosherst arrived at the scene after receiving a report of a battery in progress. The officers arrested Taylor and one other person at the scene (not Taylor's friend) for battering Rivera.

Taylor maintained his innocence and was eventually released after agreeing to participate in a counseling program for juvenile offenders. He has sued the officers and the City of Chicago under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating his constitutional rights by falsely arresting him (Count I) and using excessive force (Count II). He has also sued them for a state law claim of battery (Count III). The defendants move for partial summary judgment on Taylor's false arrest claim (Count I) contending that they had probable cause to arrest Taylor. For the reasons stated below, the motion for partial summary judgment is denied.

BACKGROUND

Other than the facts already recited, the parties agree little on the events that led the defendants to arrest Taylor. The court will review the facts advanced by the defendants first, and then review the facts advanced by Taylor.

According to the defendants, they were patrolling South Commercial Avenue when they received a call from dispatch about a nearby battery in progress. In their motion, the defendants contend that they were responding to a 911 call about African-American males beating up a Hispanic male. However, the defendants have pointed to no evidence that they knew about the 911 call or any identifying information about the victim or the perpetrators.

Upon arriving at the scene, the defendants contend that they saw Taylor and another male, Akeem Overton, hitting Rivera in the face. In their motion, they also contend that Rivera snapped at the officers and then pointed to Taylor and Overton. However, the portions of the deposition transcript they identify to support that Rivera pointed at Taylor are not attached to their motion, and the pages that are attached make no mention of Rivera pointing at Taylor.

Next, Goosherst grabbed Taylor by the waist and pulled him away from Rivera. The officers handcuffed Taylor and Overton and then questioned Rivera. In their brief, the defendants contend that Rivera asked them to take Taylor and Overton away because they were swinging at him. But according to the deposition transcript they cite in support of their factual assertion, Rivera stated "[t]ake them away because they don't respect anything." It is not clear from Rivera's deposition whether he made that statement to the defendant officers or to someone else. The officers then arrested Taylor for battery and transported him to the Fourth District police station, where he met with a youth investigator. The youth investigator obtained the consent of Taylor and his mother to participate in a counseling program as an alterative to prosecution.

Taylor tells a markedly different story. He contends that he was merely riding his bicycle with his friend when he happened upon Rivera arguing with Overton and Overton's brother. According to Taylor, as soon as he noticed the argument, the defendant officers approached him, told him to get off his bicycle, grabbed him by the shoulders, hit him in the head, and then arrested him. He watched as Overton's brother fled the scene. Taylor denies approaching, hitting, or attempting to hit Rivera.

ANALYSIS

I. 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 of any material fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A court may grant a motion for summary judgment only when the record shows that a reasonable jury could not find for the nonmoving party. See Valenti v. Qualex, Inc., 970 F.2d 363, 365 (7th Cir. 1992), see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Accordingly, the nonmoving party may withstand summary judgment only by showing that a dispute over a "genuine" material fact exists; that is, the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

II. False Arrest (Count I)

Taylor alleges that defendants Chevalier and Goosherst violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment by arresting him without probable cause. The Fourth Amendment requires that any search or seizure be made upon probable cause. U.S. CONST. amend. IV. Police officers have probable cause to arrest when facts and circumstances known to them would warrant a prudent person's ...


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