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Gloria Horton, Aisha Horton, As Mother of Terrel Pitchford and Akeelah v. City of Chicago; Chicago Police Department; Officer Jason E. Brown

February 3, 2012

GLORIA HORTON, AISHA HORTON, AS MOTHER OF TERREL PITCHFORD AND AKEELAH PITCHFORD, MINORS; LETICIA HORTON, AS MOTHER OF KIERRA MOORE AND SIERRA MOORE, MINORS; TERRENCE HORTON, AS FATHER OF SHANIYA HORTON, A MINOR,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO; CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT; OFFICER JASON E. BROWN, STAR #14562; AND UNKNOWN OFFICERS, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

For the reasons stated herein, the Court dismisses all unnamed officers from the case and grants summary judgment to the City on the Monell claim. Furthermore, the Court grants summary judgment in favor of Defendant Brown on Count III, and grants in part and denies in part his request for summary judgment on Count

I.

I. BACKGROUND

On July 8, 2008, Defendant Officer Jason Brown ("Defendant Brown" or "Brown") (along with his confidential informant John Doe) applied for, and received, a warrant to search for a firearm that Terrence Horton ("Terrence") allegedly kept at 1365 North Hudson Ave., Building 6A, Apt. #2108 ("the apartment"). The warrant application heading contains the correct address, as does the signed warrant. Throughout the supporting affidavit, however, the address is described as 1635 (not 1365) N. Hudson Ave. In his supporting affidavit, Defendant Brown explained his investigatory efforts, which included: taking Doe's report that he had seen Terrence Horton at the apartment with a gun in the last week; escorting Doe to the building and having him point out the apartment; verifying the address as one which Terrence had provided during a prior arrest; and confirming with the Marshall Fields housing complex that a family named Horton occupied the apartment.

Shortly after 11:00 p.m. on July 8, 2008, Defendant Brown and roughly 30 other officers broke down the apartment door and entered with guns drawn. (Defendant Brown concedes that there is a triable question as to whether he knocked and announced his presence before entering.) Brown avers that he holstered his weapon within one minute of entering the apartment, did not point it at anyone, and never wore a mask during the search.

Plaintiffs here are Gloria Horton ("Gloria"), a resident of the apartment, and her five grandchildren who were present for the search. (Terrence, the subject of the search warrant, is a Plaintiff as the father of Shaniya Horton, one of those grandchildren.) Several of the Plaintiff children hid under the table when officers broke through the door, and eventually were ordered to sit on a nearby couch during the search. Two testified at deposition that a masked officer pointed a gun at them for a significant period of time during the search, but could not identify the officer. It appears undisputed that no officers had physical contact with Gloria or her grandchildren. The two adults handcuffed during the search have not joined this action.

The search took roughly 90 minutes, and allegedly resulted in a broken headboard, television, and dresser drawers belonging to Gloria Horton. Brown avers that he neither damaged property nor saw other officers do so; Gloria Horton cannot identify who did the damage.

During the search, an officer found a pellet gun inside the apartment, but no other guns. After completing the search, the officers left the apartment.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate if the movant "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [it] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a).

A dispute is "genuine" if the evidence would permit a reasonable jury to find for the non-moving party, and material if it may affect the outcome of the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). If the movant meets its burden, the non-movant must present facts showing a genuine dispute to avoid summary judgment. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323--24 (1986).

Courts do not evaluate credibility or determine facts on summary judgment; they decide only whether there is enough evidence to send a case to trial. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249. The Court construes all facts and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Ricci v. DeStefano, 129 S.Ct. 2658, 2677 (2009).

If a party asserts that a fact cannot be, or is genuinely disputed, it must support that assertion with citations to materials in the record. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)(1). Such cited materials must be served and filed. Local Rule 56.1. A court need only consider cited materials, but may consider the whole record. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)(3). If a party fails to support an assertion, the Court may consider the fact undisputed, grant summary judgment if the record supports it, or issue any other appropriate order. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e).

III. DISCUSSION

Plaintiffs press several Fourth Amendment claims: that the warrant was invalid; that officers used excessive force in entering and searching the apartment; that Plaintiffs were unreasonably detained; and that officers damaged Gloria's personal property. They also seek to impose Monell liability on the City for allegedly unconstitutional policies and practices.

Unfortunately, Plaintiffs have not complied with FED. R. CIV. P. 56 or Local Rule 56.1, in that their brief often provided only general citations, and they did not serve or file much of their supporting documentation. As discussed at greater length below, that failure makes summary judgment appropriate as to most of Plaintiffs' claims.

A. City's Motion for Summary ...


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