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Brown v. Villiage of Romeoville

February 1, 2010

WILLIE BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
VILLAGE OF ROMEOVILLE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman Chief Judge, United States District Court

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, Chief Judge

After being arrested for and acquitted of disorderly conduct, pro se plaintiff Willie Brown ("Brown") filed this multi-claim civil lawsuit against the Village of Romeoville ("Romeoville"), Chief of Police Andrew Barto ("Barto"), Officer Daniel Zakula ("Zakula"), Officer James Sloup ("Sloup"), and Records Clerk Karyn Showers.*fn1 Brown's remaining claims include a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Monell v. Dept. of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978), against Romeoville and Chief Barto (Count I), federal and state false arrest claims and a state malicious prosecution claim against Romeoville, Officer Zakula, and Officer Sloup (Counts II, VIII, and X), improper search and seizure claims against Officer Zakula and Officer Sloup (Counts II and III), and a defamation claim against Officer Zakula (Count XII). Currently before the court is the remaining defendants' jointly filed Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No. 64.) For the reasons stated below, defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

BACKGROUND

The key background facts are simple and arise out of an occurrence on October 30, 2007, in Romeoville, Illinois, a community in Will County, southwest of Chicago.

Brown was arrested by Romeoville police officers Zakula and Sloup on the afternoon of October 30, 2007, for disorderly conduct, based on the sworn complaints of two witnesses, Mary Sanders ("Sanders") and her adult daughter, Amy Bova ("Bova"). Brown was then taken to the Romeoville Police Station and the car Brown had been driving was towed.

When the disorderly conduct case against Brown was called for trial on January 14, 2008, Brown appeared in court, but witnesses Sanders and Bova did not appear. The charges against Brown were dismissed.

Brown filed this lawsuit on March 18, 2008.

UNDISPUTED FACTS

In the late afternoon of October 30, 2007, Brown was driving a blue 1991 Honda Civic wagon eastbound on Airport Road in Romeoville, Illinois. (Dkt. No. 66 ("Defs.' Stmt. Undisputed Facts") ¶ 7.) At the same time, Sanders was driving her white 2007 Chevy Malibu Maxx eastbound on Airport Road with Bova in the front passenger seat. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.) Neither Sanders nor Bova had ever met Brown before encountering him on Airport Road that day. (Id. ¶ 10.) Although the details of their encounter are highly contested, it is undisputed that Brown became involved in some type of altercation with Sanders and Bova while driving. (Dkt. No. 27 ("1st Am. Compl.") ¶¶ 12-17.)

About the time Brown's and Sander's cars arrived at the west side of the intersection of Airport Road and Weber Road, a north-south road that runs through Romeoville, Officers Zakula and Sloup arrived in their respective squad cars with police emergency lights activated. (Defs.' Stmt. Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 12-13.) The officers were responding to a 911 call complaining about a man who had been slamming on his brakes and trying to cause a crash. (Id. ¶ 11.)*fn2 Brown made a right turn from Airport Road onto Weber Road and headed southbound. (Id. ¶ 12.) In response to the police cars' lights, Brown pulled his car over on the west shoulder of Weber Road, just south of Airport Road. (Id.¶¶ 12-13.) One of the officers approached Brown's vehicle and explained to Brown that two women were filing a complaint against him. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14; see also Dkt. No. 66-1, Ex. A ("Brown Dep.") 40:22-42:3.) When the officer asked Brown, "What went on?," Brown said, "Well, she stopped in front of me and I just got around her." (Brown Dep. 42:22-24.) At some point at the scene, Officer Zakula informed Brown that Sanders and Bova had accused Brown of exiting his vehicle and approaching them. (Defs.' Stmt. Undisputed Facts ¶ 15.) Officer Zakula took Brown's driver's license and then went to speak further with Sanders and Bova. (Id. ¶ 16.)

Brown cannot, and does not, dispute that Sanders and Bova told Officer Zakula that Brown swung his vehicle around Sanders' vehicle while putting his middle finger up, and then Brown stopped his vehicle directly in front of Sanders' vehicle. (Id. ¶ 17.) Sanders and Bova further told Officer Zakula that Brown then exited his vehicle and called Sanders and Bova "fucking bitches" as he approached Sanders' vehicle. (Id. ¶ 18.) Bova was shaking as she spoke with Officer Zakula. (Id. ¶ 20.) Bova and Sanders also told Officer Zakula that they were fearful for their safety. (Id. ¶ 19.) Sanders and Bova each signed a sworn complaint against Brown for disorderly conduct. (Id. ¶ 24; see also Dkt. No. 66-10, Ex. I ("Complaint").) Officers Zakula and Sloup returned to Brown's vehicle, and placed Brown under arrest for disorderly conduct. (Id. ¶¶ 26-27.)

Following Brown's arrest, Officer Sloup searched the interior of Brown's vehicle. (Id. ¶ 31.) Officer Zakula advised Brown that his car, which was parked on the western shoulder of Weber Road in a construction zone, was going to be towed. (Id. ¶ 30.) Brown asked the officers whether his wife could come to the scene to pick up Brown's vehicle, but Officer Zakula denied his request, and "Heartbreak Towing" towed Brown's vehicle from the scene. (Id. ¶¶ 31-32.) Officer Zakula placed Brown in Officer Zakula's squad car and drove to the Romeoville police station, where Brown was told that he would be released upon posting a $100 bond. (Id. ¶ 33.) Brown was released from police custody after Brown's wife came to the station and posted Brown's bond. (Id. ¶ 35.)

Brown's car was then released from its tow holding after Brown paid a $100 towing fee and a $300 administrative fee. (Id. ¶ 40.) Brown requested a hearing regarding the towing of his vehicle. (Id. ¶ 42.) Lieutenant Mark Turvey presided over the hearing and concluded that towing Brown's vehicle was proper and that the $300 administrative fee would stand. (Id. ¶ 42.)

Officer Zakula wrote an incident/arrest report about the events that transpired surrounding Brown's arrest. (Id. ¶ 36; see also Dkt. No. 66-12, Ex. K ("Zakula Report").) In the report, Officer Zakula recounted that he was dispatched to the scene in reference to a "road rage incident in progress" and that the 911 dispatcher advised Officer Zakula that the complainants had reported that Brown had "been slamming his brakes trying to cause a crash." (Id.) The report described Bova as "shaking in fear" when Officer Zakula arrived at the scene. (Id.) Additionally, the report said that Sanders and Bova told Officer Zakula at the scene that Brown followed closely behind their vehicle, and he pulled around their vehicle in a no-passing zone while giving the women "the finger." (Id.) Furthermore, the report stated that Sanders and Bova told Officer Zakula that Brown stopped his vehicle abruptly in the roadway and exited his vehicle. (Id.) The report then said that Sanders and Bova told Officer Zakula that, after exiting his vehicle, Brown walked towards Sanders and Bova and called them "fucking bitches." (Id. ¶ 37.) The report also indicated that Sanders and Bova told Officer Zakula that Brown returned to his vehicle and subsequently slammed on his brakes several times while the cars approached Weber Road. (Id.) Brown does not know if anyone has seen Officer Zakula's police report, and Brown does not know anyone who thinks less of him because of Officer Zakula's report. (Id. ¶ 38--39.)

On January 14, 2008, Brown appeared for his trial. (Id. ¶ 46.) Sanders and Bova did not appear at Brown's January 14, 2008 hearing, nor did Officer Zakula and Officer Sloup appear at the hearing. (Id.; see also Pl.'s Resp. at 25-40 ("Pl.'s Local R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp." ¶ 46).) Because neither the witnesses nor the officers were present for the hearing, the judge dismissed the disorderly conduct charges against Brown. (Id.) Consequently, Brown was given ...


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