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Eskridge v. Greco

February 20, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox


On a June evening in 2005, a man entered a clothing boutique in Melrose Park, Illinois just before it was to close. The man demanded money and as the owner tried to run he placed a gun in her mouth and shot her. The owner initially identified plaintiff Darryl Eskridge ("plaintiff") as the man who shot her that night and he was later arrested. The charges, however, were subsequently dropped when evidence revealed another suspected assailant. Six months after the arrest, plaintiff was released from custody.

In 2006, plaintiff filed the instant action alleging two counts, a civil rights violation and false arrest/false imprisonment, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. Defendant Officers Anthony Greco ("Greco") and Mike DeCarlo ("DeCarlo") and the Village of Melrose Park (collectively referred to as "defendants") have moved the Court for summary judgment against plaintiff on both counts, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). The Court acknowledges that plaintiff being held without bond on the basis of these events was highly unfortunate. But because we do not find a constitutional violation we, nonetheless, must grant defendants' motion [dkt 66].

I. Background

As required for purposes of summary judgment, the facts are presented in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the plaintiff.*fn1 On June 11, 2005, sometime between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m., Jin Choi was counting money in the cash register at her clothing boutique when two customers entered the store.*fn2 Another employee, Nayda Vera, was also working that night in the rear of the store dressing a mannequin.*fn3 The next thing Ms. Choi saw was a man pointing a gun at her.*fn4 He was an African-American male in his mid-thirties, about 6 feet tall.*fn5 He was wearing a t-shirt, a baseball cap, and dark glasses that covered his eyes and the top of his face.*fn6 The man demanded money from Ms. Choi andthreatened to shoot her in the face.*fn7 Ms. Choi tried to run away but he put the gun in Ms. Choi's mouth, told her not to scream and when she screamed, he shot her.*fn8

Ms. Vera did not come out from hiding in the back of the store until she heard Ms. Choi call the police.*fn9 Defendant DeCarlo arrived at the scene approximately five minutes later.*fn10 Defendant DeCarlo secured the area and briefly spoke with Ms. Choi before she was taken by ambulance to the hospital.*fn11 Thereafter defendant Greco arrived on the scene and both defendants took down the names of other individuals who were around and waited while the evidence technician finished his investigation of the scene.*fn12 Though DeCarlo recalls that prints were attempted to be obtained - but were not recovered - the evidence technician actually determined that it was not necessary to dust for prints after he reviewed the surveillance tape of the crime.*fn13

Later that evening DeCarlo and Greco both spoke with Ms. Choi at the hospital. She described the assailant and said that she had seen him in her store before.*fn14 Just over a week later, DeCarlo spoke with another detective who informed him that one of his confidential informants had seen the surveillance tape from the clothing boutique and identified the subject in the film as the plaintiff.*fn15 Before any contact was made with the plaintiff, on June 20, 2005, DeCarlo and Greco went to Ms. Choi's home, where she was still recovering from surgery, to show her a photo array.*fn16

The photo array included a photo of plaintiff and, though plaintiff now denies that there was a photo array at all, both defendant Greco and Ms. Choi testified to the photo array taking place.*fn17 At that time, Ms. Choi identified plaintiff's photo as being the man who shot her.*fn18 On June 23, 2005, DeCarlo arrested plaintiff at his place of employment.*fn19 On June 24, 2005, Ms. Choi was brought into the station for an in-person lineup.*fn20 Plaintiff was one of five individuals placed in the lineup and Ms. Choi again personally identified him as the man who shot her.*fn21 All the men in the line-up were black but the dissimilarities among the men included different heights and builds, and their ages ranged from 18 to 37 (plaintiff being 34 years old at the time).*fn22 Following the line-up, plaintiff had a conversation with the state's attorney, at which time he provided an alibi and gave the names of two individuals that were with him at the time in question.*fn23

The next day, on June 25, 2005, plaintiff's bond was set and, thereafter, on July 22, 2005, plaintiff was indicted by a grand jury.*fn24 Plaintiff was charged with attempted first degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and three counts of armed robbery.*fn25

On August 13, 2005, another detective from the Chicago Police Department interviewed a man named Maurice Robinson after he was arrested for a different robbery.*fn26 During that interview, the detective brought up the robbery that took place at Ms. Choi's Melrose Park boutique in June of that year.*fn27 The detective told Mr. Robinson that they had a surveillance tape from the store that showed him at the scene.*fn28 Mr. Robinson apparently denied it, then admitted that he was, in fact, in the store at the time.*fn29 According to the detective, Mr. Robinson then stated that he did not intend to shoot the woman but when he put the gun up to her face, she grabbed it and the gun discharged.*fn30

He then showed the detective scars from his hand where the gun injured his finger.*fn31

In September or October 2005, the State's Attorney working on the case came to visit Ms. Choi at her store in Melrose Park.*fn32 The State's Attorney then told Ms. Choi that she had obtained a confession for the June robbery.*fn33 Ms. Choi was apparently shown a photograph of Mr. Robinson and asked if she recognized him as the man that shot her, but Ms. Choi insisted on seeing the individual in person before she would say yes or no.*fn34

Thereafter, Greco went to Cook County Jail to interview Mr. Robinson, the new suspected perpetrator of the June 2005 robbery.*fn35 Greco never saw the confession the State's Attorney had obtained from Mr. Robinson and, during his interview, Mr. Robinson denied committing the crime at the Melrose Park boutique.*fn36

On January 11, 2006, plaintiff was released from custody after the Assistant State's Attorney made a motion nolle prosequi, ...

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