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Starr v. Sacluti

January 19, 2010

MICHAEL STARR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OFFICER SACLUTI, OFFICER OSTAP, UNKNOWN DETECTIVES, AND THE CITY OF EVANSTON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert W. Gettleman United States District Judge

Judge Robert W. Gettleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, Michael Starr, has brought a four count complaint against Evanston Police Department Officers Sacluti ("Sacluti") and Ostap ("Ostap"), Unknown Detectives, and the City of Evanston, alleging: violation of his substantive due process rights against the named officers and unknown detectives (Count I); willful and wanton negligence against the named officers and unknown detectives (Count II); a claim under 745 ILCS 10/9-102 against the City of Evanston (Count III); and a claim for respondeat superior against the City of Evanston (Count IV). Defendants have moved to dismiss the entire complaint for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons discussed below, the court grants defendant's motion to dismiss Count I and declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367 over the remaining counts.

FACTS

For the purposes of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court accepts all well-pleaded allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Andonissamy v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 547 F.3d 841, 847 (7th Cir. 2008).

On or about February 18, 2006, Officers Sacluti and Ostap pulled over a car in which plaintiff was riding as a passenger. Sacluti and Ostap arrested plaintiff and the car's driver ("the driver"), charging them with possession of marijuana, and took them to the Evanston Police Department. While at the police station, plaintiff alleges that Sacluti and Ostap coerced him into becoming a confidential informant by threatening that if he did not cooperate, plaintiff would be charged with a Class X felony, have his college scholarship taken away, and face jail time. After plaintiff had agreed to become an informant, Sacluti and Ostap told him that the driver had likewise agreed to become a confidential informant. The officers also revealed plaintiff's decision to the driver.

During the month of March 2006, plaintiff and the driver met with Sacluti to discuss drug dealers in the City of Evanston. On or about March 15, 2006, at plaintiff's first court hearing on the drug charges pending against him, Ostap stated in open court that plaintiff was cooperating with the Evanston Police Department with various drug investigations. Later that month, on three separate occasions, Sacluti and Ostap informed plaintiff that the driver was no longer a confidential informant and that plaintiff was to provide them information about the driver and his drug deals.

On or about April 16, 2006, acting on orders of Sacluti and Ostap, plaintiff and another confidential informant went to the driver's home and attempted to buy drugs from him. The driver refused. Sacluti and Ostap subsequently accused plaintiff of warning the driver that he was being set-up, and they threatened plaintiff. Following the attempted buy, the driver allegedly began exposing plaintiff as a confidential informant, and as a result plaintiff began to fear for his life.

On or about April 18, 2006, plaintiff set up a drug deal with an individual he knew and, with the assistance of a friend, asked the individual for a quantity of drugs. The complaint is not clear about what happened next, but it appears that the individual was not able to supply the requested quantity of drugs, and instead plaintiff pursued a deal with a gang member. On the date of that drug deal, Sacluti and Ostap were positioned in plain sight of the target location. Plaintiff alleges that because of the officers' obvious presence the gang member fled the scene before the deal took place.

Several months later, plaintiff left the Evanston area and began attending college at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. In August of 2006, a relative of the gang member who fled the scene of the April 2006 drug deal contacted plaintiff. Plaintiff claims that because the caller threatened his life and told him that this family would be in danger if he did not cooperate, he agreed to sell drugs for the gang member's family.

In early 2007, plaintiff claims that he was threatened again by the gang member's family and that they forced him to transport drugs from California to Champaign, Illinois. Police intervened in this scheme and intercepted the drugs before they reached their destination. In the course of their investigation, Illinois State Police and University of Illinois police searched plaintiff's room and arrested him for his involvement in the smuggling scheme. The University of Illinois brought disciplinary charges against plaintiff that were sustained, and plaintiff was dismissed from school.

The complaint also describes several incidents of verbal and physical intimidation plaintiff has faced as a result of defendant officers' alleged conduct. First, in November 2006, plaintiff was allegedly verbally harassed and physically threatened by two individuals who accused him of being a snitch and attempting to set up an individual they knew on April 18, 2006. Second, in June 2007, two individuals approached plaintiff in Evanston, verbally threatened him, and then began battering him. Plaintiff escaped without any physical injuries. Third, in July 2007, Sacluti and Ostap, with guns drawn, stopped plaintiff and a drug dealer associated with the gang member. The officers told the drug dealer that plaintiff was a confidential informant.

Almost a year later, in May 2008, plaintiff approached two unknown detectives at the Evanston Police Department and request police protection. The detectives denied plaintiff's request. Plaintiff claims that these detectives told several drug dealers that he was a confidential informant and used plaintiff's plea for protection as a means to arrest these dealers. Plaintiff states that he continued to face personal threats as a result of these arrests.

During the Fall of 2008, two people associated with a drug dealer with whom plaintiff had tried to set up a deal approached plaintiff at his community college. They called plaintiff a "snitch" and threatened to murder him. Out of fear for his safety, plaintiff withdrew from his classes. Plaintiff claims that he continues to be threatened because he is an informant for the Evanston Police Department, and he has been unable to regain admission to the University of ...


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