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Michael Reno v. the City of Chicago

June 21, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:


On March 30, 2011, Plaintiff Michael Reno brought a two-count First Amended Complaint against Defendant Chicago Police Officers Keith Harris, Jerome Hoffman, Khaled Shaar, and Nelson Gonzalez, as well as the City of Chicago, alleging a Fourth Amendment false arrest claim, see 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and a state law malicious prosecution claim. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367(a). Before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). For the following reasons, the Court denies Defendants' summary judgment motion.


I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). "The Rule is designed, in part, to aid the district court, 'which does not have the advantage of the parties' familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information,' in determining whether a trial is necessary." Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009). "The opposing party is required to file 'a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Id. (citing N.D. Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). Pursuant to the Local Rules, the Court will not consider any additional facts proposed in the nonmoving party's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) Response, but must rely on the non-movant's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) Statement of Additional Facts. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643 (7th Cir. 2008).

The purpose of Local Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant admissible evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006) ("statement of material facts did [] not comply with Rule 56.1 as it failed to adequately cite the record and was filled with irrelevant information, legal arguments, and conjecture"). Moreover, the requirements for responses under Local Rule 56.1 are "not satisfied by evasive denials that do not fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted." Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 528. The Court may also disregard statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record. See Cady, 467 F.3d at 1060; Cichon, 401 F.3d at 809-10. With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

Chicago police officers arrested Reno on March 28, 2009, near the intersection of 79th and Essex Streets on Chicago's south side. (R. 86, Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 7.) On that date, Defendant Officers were working as part of the Narcotics Division of the Chicago Police Department. (Id. ¶ 11.) More specifically, Defendant Officers, along with other police officers, were working together on a Surgical Strike Mission and were in the area of 79th and Essex Streets as part of this team. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 14.) The Surgical Strike Mission sets up "controlled buys" using undercover police officers. (Id. ¶ 14.)

As part of the Surgical Strike team that day, Defendant Officer Gonzalez was a surveillance officer, whose job it was to watch the undercover or "buy officer" for safety reasons and to document the events as they unfold. (Id. ¶ 15.) Defendant Officer Harris was the "buy officer" on the day of Reno's arrest. (Id. ¶ 16.) When executing a controlled buy, Defendant Officer Harris uses money known as "1505 funds," that eventually help the officers locate the offender of the controlled buy. (Id. ¶ 17.) Surveillance officers and buy officers travel in covert vehicles and dress in plain clothes, whereas enforcement officers are more visible. (Id. ¶ 18.) On the day of the incident, Defendant Officers Hoffman and Shaar were enforcement officers, who were tasked with detaining the offender after the controlled buy occurred. (Id. ¶ 19.)

What happened next on March 28, 2009 is hotly disputed by the parties. Defendant Officers maintain that Defendant Officer Gonzalez, who was in a covert vehicle by himself, went to the area of 79th Street and Essex where he observed Reno conducting what appeared to be narcotic-related hand-to-hand transactions with passers-by. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 24.) Defendant Officers further assert that after each transaction, Reno would go into one of the stores at the corner of 79th Street and Essex, including an ABC cellular store. (Id. ¶ 26.) After Defendant Officer Gonzalez saw Reno's first and second hand-to-hand transactions, he radioed his team giving them a description of Reno. (Id. ¶¶ 27-29.) Also, Defendant Officers contend that when Defendant Officer Harris got out of his vehicle in the area, he saw the individual -- later identified as Reno -- who Defendant Officer Gonzalez had previously described. (Id. ¶ 38.) Defendant Officer Harris then asked Reno whether he had any "rocks" of cocaine after which Reno allegedly asked Officer Harris how many he wanted. (Id. ¶¶ 40, 41.) Then, Defendant Officer Harris tendered to Reno 1505 funds in a total amount of $10. (Id. ¶ 42.) Defendants maintain that Reno then took the money and went into a store after which he came back outside and conducted a hand-to-hand transaction with Defendant Officer Harris. (Id. ¶¶ 43, 44.) Thereafter, Defendant Officer Harris radioed the other officers and Defendant Officers Hoffman and Shaar arrived on the scene and went into the store looking for Reno. (Id. ¶¶ 51-55.) When they arrived in the store, there were three individuals, including an individual who matched Defendant Officers Gonzalez's and Harris' descriptions, who was later identified as Reno. (Id. ¶ 56.) The officers asked Reno to exit the store at which time they received a positive identification from Defendant Officer Harris. (Id. ¶ 65.) The officers then took Reno into custody. (Id. ¶ 68.)

Reno, on the other hand, denies that he ever engaged in hand-to-hand transactions in the area of 79th and Essex Streets. (R. 93, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Add'l Facts ¶ 1.) Instead, Reno maintains that he went into the S and K record store on the southwest corner of 79th and Essex because he knew the owners of the store and wanted to play a video game. (Id. ¶ 2.) Reno does admit, however, that he said hello to some people he knew at the intersection while on his way to the S and K record store. (Id. ¶ 3.) Moreover, Reno denies that he engaged in any conversations or sold drugs to Defendant Officer Harris. (Id. ¶ 5.) Reno further asserts that when he was at the police station, one of the officers told him that a "crackhead gave him up" and that the officers did not tell him he was being arrested for selling drugs to an undercover police officer. (Id. ¶ 8.)

Meanwhile, the parties do not dispute that although the police officers recovered money from Reno, the money in his possession did not match the money on the 1505 funds log. (Defs.' Stmt. Fact ¶ 70.) Also, after the police discovered that the money did not match the 1505 funds log, Defendant Officer Shaar went back into the S and K record store and asked the woman behind the counter if Reno had given her money, but she answered no. (Id. ¶ 72.) In fact, the officers never recovered the 1505 funds. (Id. ¶ 76.) Also, the police officers did not recover any narcotics from Reno after conducting a search incident to his arrest. (Id. ¶¶ 74, 79.) Finally, on December 7, 2009, a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County conducted a bench trial finding Reno not guilty of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance. See 720 ILCS 570/401.


Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). In determining summary judgment motions, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). After "a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party 'must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (quotation omitted). ...

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