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Newman v. Cikulin

June 28, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge


Plaintiff Anthony Newman has sued Chicago police officers Dawn Cikulin, Michael Clemons, Darrell Reum, Marshall Mason, Paul Nauden, and Sgt. Jose Ramirez, asserting claims of false arrest and unlawful detention, malicious prosecution, conspiracy, unlawful seizure of property, and indemnification of the officers by their employer, the City of Chicago. The defendants moved for summary judgment on all five claims but later withdrew the motion as to Counts 4 and 5, the claims involving unlawful seizure of property and indemnification. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants summary judgment for the defendants on Counts 1, 2, and 3.


The following facts are undisputed. Newman was arrested January 2, 2007 at 6743 South Dorchester Avenue in Chicago and charged with delivery of a controlled substance. On November 17, 2006, Clemons, Cikulin, Nauden, and Ramirez took part in an ongoing undercover narcotics operation called "Operation 3-Peat." The operation was initiated in September 2006 to combat drug and gang activity around the 6700 block of South Blackstone Avenue; it concluded in January 2007. By November, 2006, police had identified 10 to 14 potential drug dealers. On November 8, 2006, police spotted Newman, who had been given a sentence of probation for selling drugs in the area in 1999 or 2000, talking to Ford, just before a narcotics transaction took place between Ford and undercover Officer Tonita Jones.

On November 17, Clemons and another officer, Jones, posed as undercover narcotics buyers, while Cikulin drove an undercover surveillance vehicle and Nauden videotaped. At about 11:25 a.m. at 6608 South Blackstone Avenue, Clemons and Jones purchased two grams of crack cocaine from Samuel Ford, a target of their investigation. After purchasing the crack, Clemons and Jones asked Ford to sell them an "eight-ball" of crack, an eighth of an ounce. They agreed on a price of $120, but Ford said he would have to make a phone call to get the eight ball because he did not have that much cocaine on him. Ford told the officers to return in fifteen minutes. Officers conducting surveillance observed Ford walk into a residence at 1446 East 66th Place. Newman contends that Ford remained there for about nine minutes; the defendants say it was unclear how long he was there. Police saw Ford again at 11:35 a.m., talking to an unknown individual.

Records of the police video surveillance reflect what happened next. For approximately the next twenty minutes, Ford talked on his mobile phone and interacted with people on the street. At 11:41 a.m., surveillance officers saw Ford talking to the occupants of a brown Chevrolet Tahoe at the corner of 67th Street and Dorchester Avenue. At 11:48 a.m., officers saw Ford shake hands with another person in the 1400 block of West 66th Place. At 11:49 a.m., he was seen talking on his mobile phone while walking north on Blackstone Avenue. He was seen again speaking on his phone while talking to another person at 11:51 a.m., before handing an unknown item to different person and then talking to two more people and handing another unknown item to one of them.

The basic facts involving the second transaction between Ford, Clemons and Jones are also undisputed. At about 11:55 a.m., the same Chevrolet Tahoe the police had seen earlier arrived at 66th Place and Blackstone Avenue, and Ford got inside. A few minutes later, the Tahoe arrived at 6608 South Blackstone Avenue. Ford got out of the Tahoe and sold the additional crack to the officers, who were sitting inside an undercover vehicle. Ford got back into the Tahoe, which then drove away. During the transaction, the Tahoe and the vehicle being used by the undercover officers were about ten feet away from each other. Clemons testified that Newman watched the transaction take place. Newman has not admitted he watched the transaction, but he concedes that during the second narcotics transaction, Clemons had a good view of him.

Though it is not entirely clear from the record whether Newman has admitted to being the driver of the Tahoe each time police saw Ford in contact with the occupants of the Tahoe that morning, there is no question Newman drove Ford to the location where Ford conducted the second narcotics transaction with the police. Newman's relative Cedric Tucker was in the front passenger seat, and Ford was in the back. After the Tahoe drove away from the location of the transaction, Ford got out less than a block from where the transaction had taken place. Sergeants Ramirez and Charles Artz stopped the Tahoe to identify the occupants. Because the investigation was still ongoing, Artz and Ramirez did not arrest either Newman or Tucker.

Newman says he did not know Ford was selling drugs on November 17, though he did know Ford had spent time in jail. Newman said he was driving in the area; he saw Ford at 66th Place and Blackstone Avenue, and Ford asked him for a ride. Newman says that after he picked up Ford, Ford went to a store on 67th Street, and Newman then dropped him off at 64th Street and King Drive. Newman testified in his deposition that Ford did not call him to ask him to pick him up. He also said there was no discussion of drugs or cocaine while Ford was in his car. Newman said that when he was pulled over, one of the officers told Newman he liked his car and was considering getting the same type. Ramirez denies saying that.

Nauden, who worked as a surveillance officer on November 17, testified during his deposition that he believed the Tahoe was necessary to the drug deal because Ford did not engage in the second transaction until after he returned in the Tahoe. Nauden said he believed it was unlikely Ford obtained the cocaine while in the residence at 1446 East 66th Place or while talking to others on the street.

Both Ford and Newman were arrested about six weeks later, on January 2, 2007 for delivery of a controlled substance. Tucker was not arrested. November 17 was one of four dates on which police alleged Ford had provided them with crack cocaine. By January 31, six other individuals had been arrested and charged with delivery of a controlled substance. Police also impounded the Tahoe, which was registered to Newman's mother, Sandra Neely. Ford and Newman were later indicted on a charge of delivery of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of an elementary school. Newman was ultimately found not guilty.

Despite the number of phone calls police saw Ford make before engaging in the second narcotics sale with undercover officers on November 17 and the fact that Ford told Clemons and Jones he had to make a call to get more crack, Clemons said he did not know if police checked Ford's phone records to see whom he called that day.

On January 19, 2007, Cikulin testified before a grand jury considering whether to indict Newman. Cikulin testified that Ford had stated he obtained from Newman the crack he sold to Clemens and that this statement by Ford was recorded. This testimony appears to be false. Clemons has stated that he was unaware of any such information. and there is no evidence of a recorded statement by Ford along these lines.

Newman says when he was arrested, he had $1,500 in cash. He says that Nauden inventoried $750 of the money and kept the rest. The defendants deny Newman's contention. Newman also accuses the defendants of taking part in a conspiracy to falsely arrest him and institute criminal charges against him and to generate false ...

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