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Jason Cooper, Administrator of the Estate of Teresa Iacovetti, Deceased v. City of Chicago Heights

October 27, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall


Teresa Iacovetti's ex-boyfriend Allen Perkins murdered her after she repeatedly complained about Perkins' harassment to the City of Chicago Heights' police department ("CHPD") and Perkins' parole officer, Agent Eric Bradley (together "the Defendants"). Jason Cooper, as administrator of Iacovetti's estate, sued the City and Bradley (in his individual capacity), asserting that Defendants violated the Equal Protection Clause because they failed to protect Iacovetti because she was a woman. Specifically, Cooper asserts that the Defendants took complaints from domestic violence victims like Iacovetti, who are overwhelmingly female, less seriously than other crimes, and as a result, Perkins stayed out of jail and was able to murder Iacovetti. The Defendants now move for summary judgment. Because Cooper has not demonstrated the CHPD has a policy or practice of treating complaints from women or domestic violence victims with less seriousness than complaints from men, and has not shown any evidence that Bradley intended to discriminate against Iacovetti because of her gender, the Court grants summary judgment to the Defendants.


A. Cooper's Motion to Strike

As an initial matter, Cooper moves to strike a number of the City's Local Rule 56.1 statements because they rely on an affidavit from an undisclosed witness and audiotapes of phone calls recorded by the CHPD that were previously barred because the City produced them too late. Some of the City's facts cite the affidavit of Lieutenant Michael Romano, the CHPD's chief of detectives in 2006-2009, the period relevant to this case.*fn1 Romano's affidavit concerns the CHPD's policies concerning how it assigned manpower to investigate crimes and asserts that the CHPD did not give reports classified as "domestic" less priority. (See Doc. 190-3.) Cooper asserts that Romano was never disclosed in the City's Rule 26 disclosures and that his name only came up in depositions of other officers in the context that he was in charge of the CHPD's detectives and that Iacovetti was referred to him on a couple of occasions. According to Cooper, his testimony on CHPD's gender-neutral policies was withheld until the summary judgment stage.

As the City points out, Romano's name, title, and involvement in investigations came up in a number of depositions and his name appeared on several narrative detective reports concerning Iacovetti. The City had no duty to supplement its Rule 26(a) disclosures once Romano was disclosed in those depositions as a supervisor of detectives. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(e) (not requiring supplementation when the "additional or corrective information has not otherwise been made known to the other parties during the discovery process. . . .") Indeed this is a case where, as detailed below, Cooper asserts that the CHPD systematically failed to investigate and follow up on domestic violence complaints and Cooper seeks to make the City liable for that practice under Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). From a practical perspective, in a case where Cooper must demonstrate a CHPD policy or practice, his assertion that he did not know about the person in charge of the detectives who were tasked with following up on Iacovetti's and other women's domestic complaints is not persuasive. Indeed, in one deposition, Cooper's counsel asked a CHPD captain (who later became the chief of detectives) about the CHPD's policy regarding arresting parolees from the captain's days as the chief of detectives. Further, Romano had at least some personal connection, beyond only his position, with the Iacovetti incidents. As Cooper concedes in his motion, CHPD officers referred her to Romano several times. Cooper's motion to strike the Romano affidavit is denied.

As for the audiotapes, in February 2011, Magistrate Judge Gilbert issued a detailed report and recommendation, later adopted by the Court in its entirety, that barred the City from using audiotapes of 911 and dispatch calls that accompanied the police reports generated after the incidents involving Perkins and Iacovetti because they were not produced until well into discovery, when they should have been part of the City's Rule 26 initial disclosures. The City asserts that the order only stated that the City could not present the recordings at trial, and did not mention summary judgment, but the City offers no rationale why such the discovery sanction should not apply at this stage as well. To the extent that the City's facts rely exclusively on the barred recordings, and not also on contemporaneous police reports and deposition testimony, the Court did not consider those facts, and only considered the audio recordings when they were offered by Cooper. Cooper's motion to strike (Doc. 207) is granted in part and denied in part.

B. Background and Parties

Cooper is the administrator of the Estate of Teresa Iacovetti, who died a week after Perkins shot her at her Chicago Heights residence on June 26, 2007. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. Bradley ¶ 1; Pl. 56.1 Resp. City ¶¶ 64-65.)*fn2 Bradley is a senior parole agent employed by the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), working under parole supervisors, and was Perkins' parole agent when Perkins shot Iacovetti. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. Bradley ¶¶ 2, 7.) The City, which operates the CHPD, is a municipality of about 31,000 people located in the south suburbs of Chicago. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. City ¶ 3.) The City has one of the highest crime rates in Cook County. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. City ¶ 8.) During the period relevant to this case, the CHPD had about 80 officers and eight detectives to handle around 44,000 service calls (about 1000 of which were classified as "domestic" in nature according to the City) and the City reported about 2,000 serious "index" crimes a year. (Id. at ¶¶ 5-7, 9.)

C. CHPD Policies and Response to Incidents Involving Iacovetti

The CHPD is divided into two divisions, the patrol division, which is responsible for the department's initial response and for preparing police reports, and the detective division, which collects evidence, interviews witnesses and seeks felony approval from the prosecutor's office. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. City ¶ 17.) The Illinois Domestic Violence Act and the City's domestic violence protocol defines "abuse" to include physical abuse and harassment, and activities that would cause a reasonable person emotional distress, like repeated phone calls and threatening physical force. (City 56.1 Resp. ¶ 3.) CHPD officers are supposed to treat all domestic violence-related crimes the same as all other crimes, and the CHPD's domestic violence protocol requires the police to cross-reference reports of domestic violence with previous reports. (City 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 5, 7.)

In the late 1990s, Iacovetti had a relationship with Norman DePillars, who was charged by the CHPD with stalking Iacovetti and was later convicted. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. City ¶ 26.) In 2006, Iacovetti called the CHPD to report that her husband at the time, Rufus McCollum, had threatened her and battered her. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. City ¶ 27; City 56.1 Resp. ¶ 10.) The CHPD completed a report detailing that the officers did not arrest McCollum because he was not on the scene. (Id.)

Sometime in 2006, Iacovetti began a relationship with Perkins. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. City ¶ 28.) In August 2006, the CHPD arrested Perkins for deceptive practices in connection with Iacovetti's mother, but they never called Bradley to tell him about it. (Id. at ¶ 29; City 56.1 Resp. ¶ 33.) Between November 2006 and May 2007, Iacovetti repeatedly complained to the CHPD about harassment from Perkins. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. City ¶ 28.) In one incident, Perkins kicked a chair out from under Iacovetti, but, according to Iacovetti's brother, the CHPD did not advise her about any complaint procedure and did not complete a report about the incident. (City 56.1 Resp. ¶ 11.) In the fall of 2006, a CHPD officer and family friend of the Iacovettis, saw Iacovetti at a bar and told her to stay away from Perkins, that Perkins had scammed Iacovetti's mother, and that Perkins was "not right." (Pl. 56.1 Resp. City ¶ 31.) In the early morning hours of November 26, 2006, both Perkins and Iacovetti called the police; Perkins reported that Iacovetti had broken his windows, and Iacovetti told the police that Perkins had broken into her home using a key he had and stolen various items, including a Rolex watch, other jewelry, and a handgun. (Id. at ¶ 32.)*fn3 When CHPD officers arrived at Iacovetti's house, they found a large amount of marijuana in her house, but she claimed she did not know where the drugs came from. (Id. at ¶¶ 32-33.) The CHPD captain on duty that night referred to Iacovetti as a "chick" and that her complaint "sounds like bullshit to me." (Id. at ¶¶ 33-34.)*fn4 The CHPD arrested Iacovetti for the marijuana but the charges were later dropped. (Id. at ¶ 34.) A few hours after she was released, Perkins began threatening Iacovetti again, and the CHPD responded a third time that day. (Id.)*fn5 On February 8, 2007, Iacovetti called the CHPD to report more threats from Perkins, but did not want to pursue the matter further. (Id. at ¶¶ 36, 38.)*fn6 Two days later, Perkins called the police to report that Iacovetti threatened him. (Id. at ¶ 39.)

The next month, the CHPD responded to a fight between Perkins and Iacovetti's stepfather at a family barbeque; no one was charged in connection with the incident. (Pl. 56.1 Resp. City ¶ 40.) In another incident that month, Iacovetti called the CHPD to report that Perkins was refusing to leave her property, that he had stolen her pepper spray, and that he was screaming at her. (Id. at City ¶ 41.) The next month, April 2007, Iacovetti reported that she suspected that Perkins broke her car's windshield and that he stole several items from her. (Id. at ¶ 42.) In May 2007, Iacovetti called the CHPD and summarized for Sergeant Joseph Petrarca in several conversations the various harassment from Perkins. (Id. at ¶¶ 43-44, 47.)*fn7 Petrarca referred her to Romano and told her to make a complaint for telephone harassment. (Id. at ¶¶ 44-45.) The CHPD followed up with Iacovetti, generating a report as well as a domestic violence supplemental report. (Id. at ¶ 46.) According to Iacovetti's brother, at ...

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