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Gray v. Stallworth

October 28, 2010

DERRICK GRAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARCHIE STALLWORTH, STAR NO. 351; AND DETECTIVE SNEED, STAR NO. 925, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles P. Kocoras, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This case comes before the court on the motion of Defendants Officer Archie Stallworth and Detective Sneed for summary judgment on all claims asserted by Plaintiff Derrick Gray. For the reasons stated below, the motion is denied.

BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiff Derrick Gray ("Gray") was arrested by Defendants Officer Archie Stallworth ("Stallworth") and Detective Sneed ("Sneed"), on June 17, 2007 and again on July 12, 2007. The parties dispute most of the events surrounding those arrests. Accordingly, our description of the relevant facts that are supported by admissible evidence in the record will note the existence of disputes and present each side's account of the events at issue.

Gray lived with his extended family in Harvey, Illinois. Gray and his family, lead by their grandmother, Angeline Gray, operated a candy store out of their home. Officer Stallworth and Detective Sneed were, at the time of the events, both employed by the Harvey Police Department ("HPD").

The parties present competing narratives regarding Gray's first arrest. According to the Defendants, on June 16, 2007, in response to numerous citizens complaints about narcotic dealings, Sneed and Stallworth initiated an investigation of the area near Gray's residence utilizing a digital video recording device. On June 17, 2007, Sneed was conducting video surveillance of Gray's home from an unmarked van parked nearby. Gray and his family were having a barbecue in their yard. Some time in the early afternoon, Sneed observed a vehicle stop at Gray's home. Gray approached the vehicle and a short conversation took place between the driver, Daraun Moore ("Moore"), a passenger of the car, and Gray. Sneed then noticed a hand-to-hand exchange between Gray and one of the passengers. Sneed radioed Stallworth who was waiting in a marked squad car two or three blocks down and notified him of the suspected drug transaction. Moments later, Stallworth spotted Moore's vehicle and curbed it in the area of 147th street and Honore, a short distance from Gray's residence.

Stallworth conducted a search in the vehicle and eventually recovered a small amount of cannabis packaged in blue-colored bags.*fn2 Stallworth handcuffed all the passengers, with the exception of Moore's daughter, placed them in the squad car, and transported them to the HPD.

Once they arrived at the police station, Sneed and Stallworth testified that they performed a videotaped interrogation of Moore. During the interrogation, Moore gave a video-recorded statement confessing that the cannabis found in the car was his and that he had purchased it from Gray. Moore was eventually charged with unlawful possession of cannabis.

On June 17, 2007, Sneed and Stallworth decided to arrest Gray on the strength of their prior surveillance of Gray's house and on Moore's recorded statement. Escorted by other police officers, they returned to Gray's residence to place Gray under arrest. In the course of Gray's arrest, the Officers conducted a search and recovered from Gray's person eight small blue-tinted ziplock bags containing 6.1 grams of cannabis. The bags were identical to the ones found in Moore's car. Gray was handcuffed by police officers and taken to the HPD.

While Gray was transported to the HPD, Sneed and Stallworth obtained from Angeline Gray, Gray's grandmother and leaseholder of the family house, a written and verbal consent to search Gray's residence. The consent to search form was witnessed by Jeanette Gray, Angeline's daughter. Sneed and Stallworth conducted a search in the basement of the house which lead to the recovery of a bong (pipe used to smoke cannabis), a plastic package with a green leafy substance, various packaging materials, an electronic scale, and Gray's Illinois identification card. All items were inventoried and placed into evidence at the HPD. Gray was finally charged with drug-related crimes for his June 17, 2007 arrest. The criminal charges against him were later dismissed prior to any trial; Gray was released from custody.

Gray challenges the Defendants' account of the events surrounding the June 17, 2007 arrest. Gray categorically denies that the police found drugs in his possession or in the searched premises of his house; the only items discovered were his identification card and a broken bong. His sister-in-law, Francia Cody, who lives in the same house, testified that Gray never possessed or sold drugs out of the family house.

In addition, Gray denied that Moore visited his house on the day in question and claims he is not acquainted with him. Gray also maintains that Sneed and Stallworth maneuvered Moore into a confession. In his deposition, Moore stated that he felt compelled to confess to cannabis possession because the Defendants told him that his daughter could be sent to the Department of Children and Family Services if he did not. Moore further testified that during the video-recorded interrogation Sneed had "walked [him] through" all the answers by telling him what to say. Moore now asserts that he never purchased or received drugs from Gray and the first time he ever saw the drugs was when Stallworth retrieved them from the car.

Finally, Gray claims that Sneed and Stallworth coerced his grandmother into signing the consent form. According to the deposition of Jeanette Gray, Angeline Gray was left with no other choice but to sign the form because the officers were threatening to come in anyway and that the Gray family would have to move out of Harvey if she did not sign the form.

The parties also dispute the circumstances leading to Gray's second arrest. The Defendants testified that on July 12, 2007, they conducted another investigation on Gray's home, this time utilizing a confidential informant. The confidential informant was first searched to ensure that he did not carry any narcotics or currency on him. The Officers then provided the informant with two prerecorded, photocopied, five-dollar bills. The photocopies were time-stamped and later placed as evidence in the HPD. Sneed and the confidential informant traveled in an undercover vehicle to an area near Gray's home. Sneed parked the vehicle far from the target residence but close enough to maintain visual contact with the confidential informant. The informant exited the vehicle and walked to Gray's residence where he was approached by Gray. Sneed discerned that Gray and the informant engage in a hand-to-hand transaction. The informant returned to the unmarked vehicle without Sneed ever losing sight of him and handed Sneed two ziplock plastic bags of a ...


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