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Daniel Galindo v. Det. Michael J. O'donnell

September 20, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Judge Pallmeyer


Pursuant to Rules 50 and 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Defendants, Michael O'Donnell ("O'Donnell"), Anthony Amato ("Amato"), Timothy O'Brien ("O'Brien"), and Michael Kelly ("Kelly"), by their attorneys, Brandon Gibson, Jordan Marsh and Gail L. Reich, present this motion for judgment as a matter of law and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and in support thereof state as follows:


This matter was tried before this Court from August 5, 2011 through August 15, 2011, wherein Plaintiff Daniel Galindo ("Plaintiff" or "Galindo") alleged he was falsely arrested, maliciously prosecuted, that the Defendants conspired to violate his constitutional rights and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him.

In support of his claims, Plaintiff presented testimony that in the early morning hours of February 6, 2006, Jacob Rozanski ("Rozanski") was driving his car, a black Cadillac sedan, westbound on 63rd Street toward Central Avenue in the City of Chicago when the passenger in Rozanski's car leaned out the window and shot at a Chevy Suburban driven by Andrzej Bryniarski ("Bryniarski") as it sat at a red light at Central Ave. Tomasz Chraca ("Chraca"), the passenger in the Suburban, was struck once in the left thigh; Bryniarski was unharmed. Plaintiff denied being the shooter. (Excerpt of Michael O'Donnell's trial testimony, August 8, 2011, attached hereto as Exhibit A at pp. 61-63.)*fn1 Plaintiff also presented testimony that a few weeks after the shooting, Rozanski had been found with the gun used in the shooting during the execution of an unrelated search warrant wherein he, Carl Crawford, ("Crawford") and Patrick Parker ("Parker") were arrested. (Id. at pp. 6-7; 109-112).

O'Donnell testified that when he received information that the gun found in Rozanski's possession at the time of his arrest had been linked to the shooting, he compiled photo arrays containing the photos of Rozanski, Parker and Crawford and requested that Chraca and Bryniarski view them to determine whether they could identify anyone as the shooter. Exhibit A at pp. 11-14; 113-114; 120-125. Although neither Chraca nor Bryniarski were able to positively identify the shooter in any of the photos, both told O'Donnell that Crawford "resembled" the shooter. Id. at pp. 15-27; 120-125. With this information, O'Donnell requested that Amato bring Rozanski and Crawford in for questioning. Id. at pp. 28; 126. Amato was unable to locate Crawford, but Rozanski voluntarily accompanied Amato into Area 1 to speak with O'Donnell. Id. at 30; 127-28.

When asked if he knew anything about the shooting and told that O'Donnell believed Crawford had been involved, Rozanski told O'Donnell that Crawford was not present, but that Galindo was in fact the shooter. Id. at pp. 31-32; 129. Rozanski initially told O'Donnell that he observed Galindo in a car ahead of him, and he'd seen him shoot from another car. Id. at 129. Rozanski told O'Donnell he had been following behind Galindo in his car, and that his girlfriend was with him. Id. at pp. 50; 129. O'Donnell asked for his girlfriend's contact information because Rozanski indicated that she was also a witness to the shooting, but Rozanski refused to give him the information. Id. O'Donnell then left the room and returned a short time later. Id. at 130. When O'Donnell returned, Rozanski admitted to being the driver of the car. Id. at 131. At that point, O'Donnell asked Rozanski to tell him what happened. Id. Rozanski then told O'Donnell that he would tell him the truth-he was the driver, they were in Rozanski's car, a black Cadillac sedan, Galindo was the passenger, and his girlfriend had not been with them. Id. at pp. 42. They were on their way to buy cigarettes and Galindo told Rozanski to ride up by the Suburban. Id. at 132. Rozanski explained that he was driving Westbound on 63rd Street in Chicago and that when the car reached Central Ave., Galindo leaned out and opened fire on a Chevy Suburban with a snowplow attached to it in the right lane and that there were two white people in the car. Id. at pp. 33-34; 132. Rozanski believed that Galindo knew the occupants of the Suburban. Id. at p. 132. At that time, Galindo yelled, "two-six" (a gang slogan) and fired approximately 10 shots. Id. Rozanski was also able to identify Galindo in a photograph. Id. A few weeks later, Galindo asked Rozanski to "hold onto" the gun for him, to which Rozanski agreed. Id. at pp. 42; 141. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested when he was found in possession of the gun used in the shooting. Id. at pp. 10-11.

The information that Rozanski provided regarding the shooting matched the information that O'Donnell knew from police reports he had reviewed during his investigation in order to familiarize himself with the incident: Chraca and Bryniarski were sitting in a Chevy Suburban with a snow plow attached to it at the corner of 63rd St. and Central Ave., that approximately 10 shots were fired at the left side of the suburban from a person leaning out of a black car, that the shooter was yelling. Id. at pp. 47; 130-133. With this information, O'Donnell believed that Galindo was the shooter, he was a suspect and so he asked Amato to bring Galindo in. Id. at pp. 56-57; 142-143. Amato told O'Donnell that he was planning to execute a search warrant at Galindo's home the following day. Id. at pp. 57-59; 142. The next day, Amato and Kelly, along with their team, executed a search warrant at Galindo's home and arrested Galindo. Several hours later, O'Donnell brought Galindo from the 2nd District lockup to the Area 1 detective division to be placed in lineups to be interviewed and placed in a lineup to be viewed by Bryniarski and Chraca. Id. at pp. 145-146. Galindo denied involvement, and denied knowing Rozanski or Crawford. Id. at p. 146. Both Chraca and Bryniarski viewed live lineups and identified Galindo as the shooter. Id. at pp. 80-87; 148-151; 153-156.

At the close of Plaintiff's case, Defendants moved for a directed verdict on all claims against all Defendants for failure to set forth any supporting evidence. This motion was taken under advisement by the Court. Defendants again moved for a directed verdict once they had completed presentation of their case. Prior to closing arguments, the Court granted Defendants' motion for a directed verdict on Plaintiff's "Brady" and "Due Process/Fair Trial" claims, and granted Defendant Struck's motion for a directed verdict on all claims. The Court reserved ruling on the Defendants' motion as to the remaining claims against the remaining defendants after closing arguments.

The following claims were submitted to the jury: 1) false arrest by Defendants O'Donnell, Amato, and Kelly; 2) malicious prosecution by Defendants O'Donnell and O'Brien; 3) conspiracy by Defendants O'Donnell, O'Brien, Amato, Struck and Kelly; and 4) intentional infliction of emotional distress by Defendants O'Donnell, O'Brien, Amato and Kelly. (See Verdict form, attached hereto as Exhibit B.)

The jury was instructed that the false arrest claim required the Plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the Defendants arrested him, but did not have probable cause to do so. (See Jury Instructions, attached hereto as Exhibit C.) Probable cause was defined for the jury as, "if, at the moment the arrest was made, a prudent person would have believed that the Plaintiff had committed the crime." Id. The jury was further instructed to consider what the Defendants knew and what reasonable trustworthy information Defendants had received at the time the arrest was made. Id. The jury was also instructed that the complaint of an informant alone is insufficient if it would lead a prudent person to be suspicious, but that an officer may not close his eyes to facts what would help to clarify the circumstances of an arrest. Id.

The jury was instructed that the conspiracy claim required Plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there was an express or implied agreement among Defendants to deprive plaintiff of his constitutional right to be free from false arrest, and that there was an actual deprivation of those rights in the form of overt acts in furtherance of the agreement. Id.

The jury found in favor of the Defendants and against the Plaintiff on the false arrest, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. The jury found in favor of Plaintiff and against O'Donnell, O'Brien, Amato, and Kelly on the conspiracy claim.*fn2

(See Verdict form, attached hereto as Exhibit C.)

The jury awarded Plaintiff $45,000 in compensatory damages and punitive damages against various ...

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