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Robert Wilson v. James O'brien et al

February 25, 2011


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


There are several motions before the court. Defendants James O'Brien, Gerard Carroll, John Halloran, the Estate of Edward Triggs,*fn1 William Moser, Albert Graf, Warren Richards, Fred Bonke, and the City of Chicago (collectively, "Defendants") move for partial summary judgment on Count II pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. Defendants William Moser ("Moser"), Albert Graf ("Graf"), Warren Richards ("Richards"), and Fred Bonke ("Bonke") have each filed a motion for summary judgment on Counts I-VII. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment is denied. The motions submitted by Moser, Graf, and Bonke are granted. Richards's motion is granted in part and denied in part.


On February 28, 1997, June Siler ("Siler"), a nurse employed by Michael Reese Hospital, was attacked by a man wielding a box-cutter as she waited in a bus shelter at 2851 South King Drive in Chicago. Defendants James O'Brien ("O'Brien") and Gerard Carroll ("Carroll"), detectives with the Chicago Police Department at the time, responded to the scene of the incident and assumed primary responsibility for the investigation. Detectives Moser and Graf also responded to the scene of Siler's attack to assist O'Brien and Carroll. O'Brien and Carroll eventually left the crime scene to interview Siler at Northwestern Memorial Hospital ("Northwestern") but she was unavailable for questioning at the time they arrived. Moser and Graf initially remained at the bus shelter to protect the crime scene, communicate with beat officers, and search for physical evidence. Moser later conducted a telephone interview with an eyewitness while Graf interviewed witnesses at Michael Reese Hospital.

On the night of March 1, 1997, O'Brien, Carroll, Moser, Graf, and Detective John Halloran ("Halloran") were conducting surveillance of the bus stop where Siler had been attacked the night before. Later that night, O'Brien, Carroll, and Halloran approached Plaintiff Robert Wilson ("Wilson") as he waited at the bus stop. The detectives performed a protective pat-down of Wilson and retrieved a folding knife. After recovering the knife, O'Brien, Carroll, and Halloran placed Wilson under arrest for unlawful use of weapons and transported Wilson to the Chicago Police Department's Area 1 station.*fn2 Though Moser and Graf were listed as assisting officers in the police report of Wilson's arrest, the two men did not personally approach Wilson or take him into custody. In the interview room at the police station, O'Brien, Carroll, and Halloran questioned Wilson about his whereabouts on February 28 and his possible involvement in the Siler attack. After some initial questioning, one of the detectives escorted Wilson out of the interview room and took some Polaroid pictures of Wilson. The detective took two photos of Wilson's face: one in which he is wearing a hat and one in which he is not.

After Wilson had his picture taken, O'Brien, Carroll, and Halloran assembled a photo array to show to Siler at Northwestern. The array included Wilson's photo as well as filler photos of other individuals. When confronted with the photos, Siler identified Wilson as her attacker.*fn3 The detectives then contacted the Cook County State's Attorney Felony Review Unit to send someone to interview Siler. Assistant State's Attorney Ursula Walowski ("Walowski") soon arrived at Northwestern and questioned Siler about her identification. Based on Siler's positive identification of Wilson and her own discussions with Siler, Walowski approved the filing of felony charges against Wilson for aggravated battery and unlawful use of weapons.

After Siler positively identified Wilson in the photo line-up, O'Brien, Carroll, and Halloran returned to Area 1 to interrogate Wilson further. At some point during the interrogation, O'Brien and two other officers asked Wilson to consent to a search of his home. Wilson agreed and signed a written Consent To Search form. The parties disagree as to whether Moser actually entered the interrogation room to obtain Wilson's consent. Moser testified that he could not recall ever being in the same room with Wilson but he signed the Consent To Search form as a witness and testified that normal police practice would be for the witness to sign the form in the consenting person's presence. Wilson also testified that, after granting consent to the search, he asked the detectives to bring him his blood pressure medication and described the location of the medication in his home. Carroll and O'Brien both deny that Wilson ever requested that the police retrieve his blood pressure medication during his questioning.

Moser and Graf conducted the search of Wilson's home and recovered nothing of evidentiary value. Wilson did not receive his blood pressure medication at any time during his stay at Area 1. Wilson testified that he became increasingly ill and disoriented over the course of his time at Area 1 as a result of not receiving his blood pressure medication. Defendants offer testimony from Carroll to dispute this; Carroll observed Wilson during this period and did not notice any problems with his health. Regardless of the state of Wilson's health during his time at Area 1, doctors treated him for hypertension when he was admitted to the Cook County Jail on March 3, 1997.

Wilson was eventually removed from the interview room and taken to a lock-up facility at Area 1 at approximately 3:00 a.m. on March 2, 1997. At 4:30 p.m. that same day, O'Brien, Carroll, and Halloran arrived back at Area 1 for the afternoon shift. Soon after entering the station, the three men learned that Kenneth Frost ("Frost") had seen a photo of Wilson on the evening news and had identified him as his assailant in an attack that occurred three weeks earlier. The Chicago Police brought Frost to Area 1 to be interviewed and to view a line-up. At 5:30 p.m. on March 2, Wilson was removed from the lock-up facility to be placed in a line-up. At 10:30 p.m., Frost viewed a live line-up that included Wilson and four other individuals and again identified Wilson as his assailant.

The parties propound differing descriptions of what happened in the room where the line-up participants were displayed. Wilson testified that a police officer whom he had not seen before was seated in a chair in the line-up room. The officer asked Wilson if he had ever seen a utility blade before. As he asked this, he pulled a thin plastic utility blade with a black knob out of his pocket and began to demonstrate its operation to Wilson. Wilson has not positively identified this officer by name but has presented evidence to suggest that the person in question was Detective Warren Richards. O'Brien and Halloran both testified that Richards was in the room with the line-up participants. A police report regarding the line-up also lists Richards as an officer who was present with the lineup participants. For his part, Richards denied that he was the officer Wilson described but did not deny that he was in the room with Wilson.

The parties also dispute whether some of the Defendants questioned Wilson following the lineup. In Wilson's version of events, O'Brien and the police officer who showed him how the utility blade worked brought him back to the interview room. Wilson stated that, once back in the interview room, O'Brien began to aggressively accuse him of committing the attack on Siler and to demand that he confess to that crime. Wilson testified that O'Brien repeatedly struck him on the side of his head in the presence of the unidentified officer. O'Brien denied that he interviewed Wilson about Siler or Frost on March 2, 2007, and also denied that he abused Wilson. Carroll testified that none of the detectives involved in the Siler or Frost investigations had any contact with Wilson during the time Wilson asserted O'Brien struck him.

Sometime after the lineup on March 2, Assistant State's Attorney William Healy ("Healy") entered the interview room to question Wilson. Healy eventually left the room with a signed statement from Wilson admitting to the Siler and Frost attacks and filed aggravated battery charges against Wilson for the Frost assault. The two side's accounts of the discussion between the two men differ markedly. According to Wilson, Healy told him he should confess because the police officers would likely beat him up if he did not. Healy also purportedly told Wilson that, if he confessed, Healy would be able to get him a deal where Wilson would only serve a year in jail. Wilson also said that Healy refused his request to make a phone call and did not read him his Miranda rights before he signed the statement at issue. Finally, Wilson testified that, as Healy prepared the handwritten statement, Wilson concocted details of the Siler attack on the basis of hints that Healy provided. Healy denied that he told Wilson he should confess, that he would only serve one year in jail, that he failed to read Wilson his Miranda rights, and that he provided Wilson with "hints" as to the circumstances of the Siler attack.

The detectives investigating the Siler and Frost attacks were supervised by Defendant Fred Bonke, a sergeant at Area 1. As supervising sergeant, Bonke's responsibilities included assigning detectives to cases; keeping track of the status of ongoing investigations; knowing which suspects were brought in for interrogation, which detectives were responsible for the interrogation, and how long the interrogation had been going on; and ensuring that all suspects were given the relevant necessities. Bonke maintained contact with the detectives working on the case throughout the course of the investigation; received, reviewed, and signed progress reports on the investigation; and notified other supervisors about developments in the Siler matter.

A few days after the Siler investigation ended, police arrested another individual, Jerryco Wagner ("Wagner"), after he stabbed Melanie Hopp ("Hopp") in the neck outside a church on Chicago's South Side. Wagner had a steak knife in his possession at the time of his arrest and admitted to a number of recent stabbing assaults. Detective Edward Triggs ("Triggs"), who had conducted a witness interview early on in the Siler matter, was one of the detectives assigned to investigate Hopp's attempted murder. Carroll testified that he asked Triggs whether he had questioned Wagner about the Siler attack and Triggs informed him that Wagner had denied committing the attack.

Wilson's trial in the Siler case began in November 1999 in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Wilson's confession was introduced as evidence against him on November 3, 1999. During the defense's presentation, Wilson attempted to introduce evidence of Wagner's attacks in order to establish that Wagner, not Wilson, had attacked Siler. The court precluded Wilson from presenting evidence related ...

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