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Beverly Thurman v. Chicago Police Officer Gorman ) and the City of

December 16, 2010


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

(Star #14913),


On December 17, 2009, plaintiff Beverly Thurman ("Thurman") filed a First Amended Complaint (Dkt. No. 18) against the City of Chicago ("City") and Officer John Gorman*fn1 ("Officer Gorman") (collectively "Defendants"). In the First Amended Complaint, Thurman brings four counts against the Defendants: Fourth Amendment unlawful seizure under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count I); conversion under Illinois law (Count II); intentional infliction of emotional distress under Illinois law (Count III); and indemnity under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/9-102 (Count IV). (Dkt. No. 18)*fn2

Currently before the court is the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 59), which requests summary judgment on Counts I, II, and IV of Thurman's First Amended Complaint. For the reasons explained below, the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.


For purposes of the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, the relevant facts of this case are described below in the light most favorable to Thurman. See Fischer v. Avanade, Inc., 519 F.3d 393, 401 (7th Cir. 2008).*fn3

I. The Parties

Thurman was the owner of a dog named Roscoe Thurman. (Dkt. No. 66 ("Thurman's Local R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp.") ¶ 5.) Officer Gorman is a member of the Chicago Police Department (id. ¶ 6), and the City is a municipal corporation which employs Officer Gorman (id. ¶ 7).

II. Events Giving Rise to Thurman's Claims Thurman routinely left her dog, Roscoe, at her parents' house at 9351 South Sangamon Street in Chicago, Illinois during the day when Thurman went to work (id. ¶ 10; Thurman's Ex. 2, Thurman Dep. 24:20-25:20), and the dog usually was kept in the fenced-in yard on the Thurman property (Thurman's Local R. 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶ 4).

Michael Anthony Chrismon ("Chrishom") is the U.S. Postal Service mail carrier that services the area where Thurman's parents live. (Thurman's Local R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp. ¶ 12.) He delivered mail to the Thurman home for several years and was very familiar with the Thurman family as well as Thurman's dog, Roscoe. (Id.) Around 11 a.m. on October 1, 2008, Chrismon saw Roscoe loose and unattended, going up and down the street and barking. (Id. ¶ 13.) Chrismon called 311 to report that the dog was loose. (Id.) According to Chrismon, he called 311 and not 911 because he "didn't think it was an emergency." (Thurman's Ex. 4, Chrismon Dep. 11:15-19.) Chrismon then went to the next block to deliver mail until the dog was secured. (Thurman's Local R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp. ¶ 13.)

Officer Gorman was on patrol on October 1, 2008, when he received a radio dispatch regarding a vicious animal in the area of 9351 South Sangamon Street. (Id. ¶ 18.) The corresponding narrative on the computer screen in Officer Gorman's police car read: "pitbull just tried to attack the mailman." (Thurman's Ex. 8, Oct. 1, 2008 Chi. Police Dep't Event Query.) When Officer Gorman arrived at the location, he saw Thurman's dog standing in front of the Thurman home, unrestrained and unattended. (Thurman's Local R. 56.1(b)(3) Resp. ¶ 19.) During his deposition, Officer Gorman testified that he exited his vehicle and was walking toward the residence that Roscoe was standing in front of when the dog charged at him. (Defs.' Ex. 5, Gorman Dep. 28:18-20.) According to Officer Gorman, at that moment, he perceived a threat of great bodily harm and had only seconds to make a decision. (Id. at 31:16-21; 60:7-14.) He took his pistol from his belt, shot once, and put down the animal. (Id. at 29:4-14; 32:12-16.)

Before Officer Gorman shot Roscoe, Chrismon was delivering mail at a business at 93rd Street and Sangamon Street. (Chrismon Dep. 15:18-16:3.) Chrismon saw Officer Gorman down the block and yelled to the officer to tell him where the dog lived. (Id. at 15:18-16:6.) After going inside the business to deliver the mail, Chrismon heard the shots.*fn4 (Thurman's Local R. 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶ 21.) He then returned to the Thurman residence at 9351 South Sangamon Street, where he told Officer Gorman, "I thought you heard me. I was telling you where the dog lived." (Id. ¶ 22.) In response, Officer Gorman told Chrismon, "That's a pit bull and I don't play with pit bulls." (Id.)

Joann Williams, who lives at 9323 South Sangamon Street, was standing outside her home at the time of the shooting. (Thurman's Ex. 5, Williams's Aff. ¶¶ 3, 6-7.)*fn5 According to Williams's affidavit, she saw "a white male police officer standing behind his police vehicle facing the Thurman residence." (Id. ¶ 7.) Williams "shouted down the street and told the officer not to shoot the dog." (Id. ¶ 8.) "One second later," Williams "heard the loud pop sound of the gun and saw Roscoe running off the grass hollering." (Id. ¶ 8.) Williams never saw "the dog charge . . . or otherwise attack" Officer Gorman (id. ¶ 9), and the dog had been "in front of the Thurman's residence on the lawn the entire time [Williams] observed him prior to being shot" (id. ¶ 11). Williams, however, did not witness the actual shooting. ...

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