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Mack Adams, Sr., As Franchisee of Harold's Chicken #87 v. City of Chicago Police Officers Anthony Bruno

October 6, 2011

MACK ADAMS, SR., AS FRANCHISEE OF HAROLD'S CHICKEN #87, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO POLICE OFFICERS ANTHONY BRUNO, STAR NO. 12212; ANDREW JANIK, STAR NO. 10860; LT. TIM BICKHAM, STAR NO. 284; BRIAN SCHNIER, STAR NO. 1273; MICHAEL SLATTERY, STAR NO. 11102; SALVADOR LARA, STAR NO. 17286; UNKNOWN AND UNNAMED OFFICERS; AND THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court are three motions, two of which are dispositive: (1) Plaintiff Mack Adams, Sr.'s Motion for Summary Judgment; (2) Defendant Officers' Joint Motion for Summary Judgment; and (3) Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions under Rule 11 against Defendants.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This case arises out of a search of Harold's Chicken on February 12, 2010. Harold's is located at 7348 S. Stony Island, in a strip mall with a communal parking lot. Defendants claim many drug and other illegal transactions occur in that parking lot. Plaintiff Mack Adams, Sr. ("Adams, Sr.") owns Harold's.

A locked door and a plexiglass window divide the restaurant into two chief areas: the lobby area which is open to the public, and the employee area, which contains freezers, a bathroom, an office, and other spaces. At the time of the incident, there were four employees behind the window.

After his shift as restaurant manager, Mack Adams, Jr. ("Adams, Jr.") went outside into the parking lot. Upon noticing police officers approaching, Adams, Jr. returned to the restaurant and went behind the locked door to the employee area. The parties dispute why and at what pace Adams, Jr. went inside.

After seeing Adams, Jr. depart, Defendant Officers Anthony Bruno ("Bruno") and Andrew Janik ("Janik") called for additional officers (including Defendants Sgt. Brian Schnier ("Schnier") and Officer Michael Slattery ("Slattery")). They then set up surveillance of the parking lot, allegedly to detect narcotics activity. Some time thereafter, Adams, Jr. returned to the parking lot and talked with Shaun Davis, who gave Adams, Jr. at least one "burned" DVD.

Ostensibly believing that they had just witnessed a hand-to-hand drug transaction, Bruno and Janik radioed Schnier and Slattery to apprehend Adams, Jr. Defendants contend that Adams, Jr. attempted to flee. They handcuffed him either in the doorway or just inside the restaurant, and then sat him down in the restaurant lobby. The search of Adams, Jr. turned up the DVD, but no drugs or other contraband. A search of Davis' car turned up a large number of burned DVDs and CDs.

The parties disagree over what happened next. Defendants claim that Adams, Jr. made suspiciously contradictory statements about why he was heading into the restaurant -- first claiming he was there to get chicken, then that he was the manager. Plaintiff claims that Adams, Jr. merely denied dealing drugs, and told Defendants that his father owned the restaurant. Then, Defendants claim, Adams, Jr. motioned to employees behind the counter, asking them to "hide it, hide it" or "flush it, flush it." They also claim that one employee left the officer's field of vision in response to those comments. Plaintiff claims that Adams, Jr. was asking employees to call his father. After that, Slattery turned Adams, Jr. to face away from employees, allegedly to stop him from talking to them. During this time, Officers asked Harold's customers to leave the restaurant (at least once they obtained their food) and refused to allow new customers to enter.

While this was going on, Defendants did a "license check" of the restaurant. Harold's did not have its business license on display to the public, as required by law. Officer Salvador Lara ("Lara") was called to the scene to issue the restaurant an Administrative Notice of Violation (an "ANOV") for failure to display its license. (Lara also issued a second ANOV, evidently based on his misimpression that the DVD exchange had taken place inside. That ANOV was later dropped.)

Officers asked restaurant employees to unlock the door to the back, either so that officers could complete an investigatory search or so that an employee could sign the ANOVs. Over the phone, Plaintiff evidently instructed his employees not to comply, because Defendants had no warrant. The employees denied the officers entry. The parties agree than an employee told officers that Plaintiff was on the way to the restaurant. Plaintiff was evidently on his way home (to Indiana) to monitor the situation via his video feed from the restaurant security cameras. The parties disagree whether Plaintiff himself told Schnier that he was en route with a lawyer. Plaintiff never arrived at the restaurant.

Plaintiff called the Independent Police Review Authority and spoke with Investigator Margarita Galindo ("Galindo"). According to her deposition, she initially advised Plaintiff that they did not have to let the police search the back without a warrant. In a later call, evidently based on her belief that the Police needed to apprehend someone in the restaurant, she claims that she told Plaintiff to cooperate.

While waiting for Plaintiff to arrive, Schnier claims that he researched the legal justification for entering the back. He testified in deposition that at some point he found that authority in some section of the Municipal Code of Chicago. Schnier also called Lt. Tim Bickham ("Bickham"), who agreed to come to the scene. Bickham waited until the midnight watch commander arrived, briefed her, and then joined the other Defendants at Harold's. When Bickham arrived, he ordered employees to open the door. They did not. They also refused to provide identification to the officers, but at least one employee eventually gave officers her ID. Employees also refused to sign the ANOV forms.

Bickham eventually picked open the locked door with a pocketknife and chain. Once the door was open, Bickham and several other officers searched at least the employee work area, storage area, freezers, refrigerators, and food processing areas. Exactly which officers searched the back remains contested. The parties agree that Slattery remained in the front of the restaurant, guarding Adams, Jr. No officers discussed getting a warrant.

The search turned up no drugs, guns or other contraband. Officers found a laptop and blank CDs, but did not seize them. After the search, the Defendants left.

The parties disagree over how long the incident took. Defendants claim that no more than two hours passed from the time of Adams, Jr.'s arrest to the officers' departure. Plaintiff contends that Defendants did not open the door until two hours after Adams, Jr. purportedly said "hide it" and/or "flush it." The parties also give varying estimates of how long it would have taken officers to obtain a warrant on the night of the incident.

In their depositions, the Defendant Officers expressed varying beliefs about whether evidence was about to be destroyed when they entered the rear area. Similarly, they expressed varying legal justifications for the search.

II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Adams, Sr. initially filed this action on April 2, 2010. He amended his complaint on May 10, 2010. The Amended Complaint alleged an unreasonable search of the restaurant in violation of Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights and a supplemental state law claim for defamation. On April 1, 2011, Plaintiff filed the Parties' stipulated dismissal of the defamation count. Plaintiff's request to amend the complaint a second time was denied on April 14, 2011 and again on ...


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