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Reginald Dale v. Alex Gillespie

March 18, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Byron G. Cudmore, U.S. Magistrate Judge:


Friday, 18 March, 2011 11:09:17 AM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD


This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Alex Gillespie, Aaron Conard, Bill Smith, Brad Martin, and the Sangamon County Sheriff's Office's Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 36) (Motion). The case involves an altercation at the Sangamon County, Illinois, Jail (Jail) on September 23, 2006. Defendants Gillespie, Conard, and Martin were correctional officers at the Jail. Defendant Smith was a Sergeant on duty at the time. Plaintiff Reginald Dale was a detainee at the Jail on that date. Dale alleges that the Defendants violated his rights by using excessive force against him. The parties consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), to have this matter proceed before this Court. Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, and Order of Reference (d/e 34). The Defendants now ask for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Sangamon County Sheriff's Office is entitled to summary judgment, but issues of fact remain with respect to the other Defendants. The Motion is, therefore, allowed in part and denied in part.


For purposes of the Motion, the Court must look at the evidence in the light most favorable to Dale. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The Court, therefore, will recite the facts adduced by viewing the evidence in that manner. The Court makes this recitation for the limited purpose of resolving the Motion. The Court recognizes that the Defendants vigorously dispute much of the evidence presented by Dale, and the Court is not reciting the facts or making any findings for any purpose other than resolving the Motion.

On September 23, 2006, at approximately 3:33 a.m., Dale was booked into the Jail on a warrant for resisting or obstructing a peace officer. By 4:30 a.m., Dale was placed in holding Cell I-10 (Cell) in the booking area of the Jail. Several detainees were in the Cell. All of the other detainees were asleep except a man named Aaron Dickerson. Plaintiff's Response to Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 42), attached Affidavit of Aaron Dickerson. Defendants Gillespie, Conard, and Martin were the correctional officers on duty in the booking area at that time.

At about 4:30 a.m., Dale was attempting to use the telephone in the Cell to call someone to make his bail, but the phone was not working. Dale asked the Defendant correctional officers to turn on the phone so he could make a call. Dale states that Defendant Gillespie started to use abusive language and curse words. Memorandum, Exhibit 7, Deposition of Reginald Dale, at 19, 54-55. Dale approached the door to the Cell and started talking back to Gillespie with similarly abusive language. At one point, Gillespie asked Dale whether he was threatening Gillespie. Dale told Gillespie that he "could take it any way he wants to take it." Dale Deposition, at 17, 20, 54. During the conversation, Gillespie told Dale to be quiet and to step away from the door. Dale Deposition, at 33. Dale refused to comply with the orders. Dale Deposition, at 34.

At approximately 4:43 a.m., Gillespie told one of the other Defendant Correctional Officers to push the button at the desk to open the door to the Cell. The officer did so and opened the door. Gillespie then lunged at Dale, grabbed him by the throat and started choking him and forcing him to the back of the Cell. Dale Deposition, at 30-31. The door closed behind Gillespie as he entered. Conard and Martin then reopened the door and entered the Cell. The three officers then beat and choked Dale, and shot him repeatedly with Tasers. Dale Deposition, at 17-18, 36-39, 46. The officers threatened Dale and used racial slurs. Dale Deposition, at 17-18.

Dale is an African American; Defendants Gillespie, Conard, and Martin are Caucasians. Dale attempted to fend off the attackers but was unable to do so. Dale Deposition, at 32, 37-39. Dale stated that Gillespie and Conard were the primary attackers, but Martin was present and participated. After beating, choking and tasing, Defendants Gillespie, Conard, and Martin walked Dale out of the Cell and placed him in a different holding cell.

The Defendants submitted a video of the incident shot by a security camera in the Jail. The security camera view shows the booking desk, a portion of hallway in front of the booking desk, and the door to the Cell opposite the booking desk. The camera did not record anything that happened inside of the Cell. The time stamp on the video shows that the camera took one frame per second when there was some motion in the camera's view. The video has no sound.

According to the video, Gillespie went to the door of the Cell at 4:43:10.*fn1 He said something to the officer behind the desk when he reached the door to the Cell. The Cell door opened. A man, Dale, can be seen standing in the doorway next to the door. At 4:43:18, Gillespie raised his arms toward Dale's upper chest or throat and seemed to push Dale back into the Cell. The door shut behind Gillespie. At 4:43:26, Conard and Martin went into the Cell. At 4:43:54, Sgt. Smith entered the Cell. From 4:44:00 to 4:44:10, Sgt. Smith came out of the Cell, walked to the Desk, handed something to the person at the desk, and then went back into the Cell. At 4:44:55, Defendants Gillespie, Conard, and Martin walked Dale out of the Cell and down the hall out of the view of the camera. Sgt. Smith followed them out of the Cell and shut the door. Dale was not resisting as the Defendants walked him down the hallway.*fn2

Dale was charged with battery. On October 23, 2009, Dale pleaded guilty to the charge of battery, a misdemeanor, in a negotiated plea. The charging document alleged that Dale committed battery when he "knowingly made contact of an insulting and provoking nature to A. Gillespie, in that said defendant struck A. Gillespie in the face with his hand." Memorandum, Exhibit 9, Copy of Charge for Count II of ...

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