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Mayhew v. Gutierrez

August 9, 2010


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


Plaintiff Donyell Mayhew has sued two Chicago police officers and the City of Chicago under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the officers used excessive force in arresting him and that the violation was caused by a policy or custom of the City. The City has moved for summary judgment on Mayhew's section 1983 claim; the officers have not moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the City's motion.


Mayhew claims that Chicago police officers John Dolan and Daniel Gutierrez violated his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force in arresting him on September 27, 2006.

Mayhew has also asserted a section 1983 claim against the City of Chicago. He alleges that the City was deliberately indifferent to the fact that its investigatory and disciplinary oversight of police misconduct was deficient and ineffectual. Mayhew contends this policy led officers to believe they would not be sanctioned for unlawful behavior. He alleges this was a proximate cause of Dolan and Gutierrez's use of excessive force against him.

On September 27, 2006, Dolan and Gutierrez arrested Mayhew for armed robbery and aggravated battery. Mayhew alleges they used excessive force, repeatedly punching and kicking him even though he did not resist. Defendants contend the force they used was reasonable. Gutierrez has testified that officers periodically watch training videos regarding the proper use of force during an arrest.

On October 23, 2006, Mayhew filed a three-page complaint with the Chicago Police Department's Office of Professional Standards ("OPS") alleging he had been subjected to excessive force during his arrest. At the time, OPS was a division of the Chicago Police Department assigned to investigate allegations of police misconduct. OPS has since been supplanted by a different agency called the Independent Police Review Authority.

OPS investigator Shannon Hayes was assigned to investigate Mayhew's complaint. Hayes interviewed Mayhew on October 23, 2006 and prepared a written statement. On that same date, she obtained the officers' reports regarding the incident. From that time forward, Hayes submitted an extension request every thirty days the investigation remained open, nearly two and one-half years. Her supervisor approved these requests en masse on February 24, 2009.

As part of her investigation, Hayes requested Mayhew's medical records from two hospitals and sent unanswered letters to two potential civilian witnesses, Patricia Green and Christina Collins. Hayes received the medical records on November 28, 2006. After reviewing these and the police officers' reports, Hayes reported that she "had reason to believe that Mr. Mayhew's allegations of misconduct weren't truthful." She believed that the level of injury shown by the medical records, which described them as "mild," did not match the severity of the beating Mayhew had alleged.

Hayes' investigation seems to have been on hold -- or at least nothing took place -- for a two-year period after that, from November 2006 through December 2008. Defendants do not attempt to explain the delay and do not suggest that Hayes was ever asked to explain why things were taking so long. On December 15, 2008, Hayes obtained additional information concerning the case. The next day, she requested reports from three accused officers and nine officers who witnessed the events. She received the reports in January-February, 2009. On February 23, 2009, Hayes prepared a report in which she concluded that the allegations against Dolan, Gutierrez and another officer were "unfounded."

Mayhew has also offered evidence regarding OPS investigations in general. This evidence reflects that in 2006-2007, OPS investigators took more than 300 days to complete investigations in many instances, with some investigations lasting much longer, anywhere from 370 days (one year) to 976 days (nearly three years). From January 1, 2006 through October 31, 2006, OPS completed 2,048 investigations of citizen complaints. Allegations of police misconduct were sustained forty-seven times, which represents only a little over two percent of the total number of completed investigations.

The City concedes that, at the time of Mayhew's complaint, OPS was "extremely understaffed" by at least twenty-three investigators compared to the number of budgeted positions. The City also concedes that Hayes had a high caseload at this time.

Dolan and Gutierrez have testified that they were unaware of the OPS complaint Mayhew filed against them until this lawsuit was filed. Gutierrez has testified that he was unaware of the length of typical OPS investigations. He was, however, able to estimate the number of prior complaints made against him, and he was able to describe the particulars of one of those complaints. Dolan was also able to describe the circumstances of prior complaints against him, though he was unable to ...

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