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Devonne Reed v. Frank Sarabia and J.E. Wrigley

August 1, 2012

DEVONNE REED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FRANK SARABIA AND J.E. WRIGLEY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan B. Gottschall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Devonne Reed brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1988 against two Chicago police officers, alleging they used excessive force (spraying mace on his bare genital area and repeatedly beating him with a police baton) pursuant to his lawful arrest. Those officers, Frank Sarabia and J.E. Wrigley, now move for summary judgment, arguing that the force they used to detain Mr. Reed was reasonable as a matter of law because Mr. Reed evaded an earlier arrest and was previously seen with a weapon. For the reasons stated below, the court denies Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

I.BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.

On September 6, 2007, a Chicago Police narcotic surveillance team observed Devonne Reed selling a substance later identified as cocaine to at least three pedestrian customers in a vacant lot on the 3100 block of W. Roosevelt Road in Chicago. (Defs. Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement (hereinafter "Defs. St.") ¶¶ 12-13.) The surveillance team also observed Mr. Reed pulling a black handgun from his waistband and placing it in the front passenger area of a nearby green Chevrolet. (Defs. St. ¶ 15.)

The surveillance team then directed Chicago Police Officers Frank Sarabia and J.E. Wrigley ("defendant officers") to arrest Mr. Reed. (Defs. St. ¶ 3.) Defendant officers handcuffed Mr. Reed and placed him in the backseat of an unlocked police vehicle. (Defs. St. ¶ 4.) During that arrest (referenced hereinafter as the "first arrest"), Mr. Reed did not have any drugs or weapons on his person. (Pl. Rule 56.1(b)(3) Statement (hereinafter "Pl. St.") ¶ 2.)

After placing Mr. Reed in the backseat of the police vehicle, defendant officers talked and inspected the green Chevrolet, from which they ultimately recovered a handgun. (Defs. St. ¶ 12.) Meanwhile, Mr. Reed reached for the lever of the police car's door, opened it, and fled on foot. (Defs. St. ¶ 5.) Mr. Reed found an abandoned car and hid in its back seat area for approximately 25-30 minutes until the officers found him. (Defs. St. ¶ 6.) When defendant officers found Mr. Reed, they pulled him from the abandoned vehicle and again placed him under arrest (referenced hereinafter as the "second arrest"). (Defs. St. ¶ 9.)

The parties dispute whether Mr. Reed remained handcuffed behind his back during his escape and hiding. Defendant officers contend that, although Mr. Reed was handcuffed behind his back during his initial arrest, when they found him in the abandoned vehicle Officer Sarabia "saw that the handcuffs were now in front of the plaintiff." (Defs. St. ¶ 22.) Defendant officers contend that Officer Sarabia then unlocked one of Mr. Reed's handcuffs and relocked them behind Mr. Reed's back. (Defs. St. ¶ 23.) Mr. Reed contends that he was handcuffed behind his back during his first arrest and remained so during his escape and the entirety of the second arrest. (Pl. St. ¶ 10.)

The parties also dispute whether Mr. Reed resisted the second arrest. Defendant officers contend, without any additional detail, that Mr. Reed "fought with" them during the second arrest. (Defs. St. ¶ 24.) Mr. Reed denies fighting with the officers (Pl. Resp. to Defs. St. ¶ 24) and states that "[a]t no point [did he] punch, kick, or grab any of the Officers." (Pl. St. ¶ 9.)

Finally, the parties dispute the degree of force used in the second arrest. Mr. Reed contends that Officer Sarabia sprayed mace all over his body and lifted his pants and undergarments to spray mace on his bare genitals. (Pl. St. ¶¶ 12-13.) Mr. Reed contends that the mace burned his genital area, and that after he was transported to jail and placed in a cell, he drenched his shirt in toilet water and used that in an attempt to wash the mace off. (Pl. St. ¶¶ 15-16.) Mr. Reed also contends that while Officer Sarabia sprayed mace, Officer Wrigley repeatedly beat Mr. Reed with a police baton. (Pl. St. ¶ 14.) Defendant officers concede that they used mace to subdue Mr. Reed, but deny spraying mace on Mr. Reed's bare genital area or beating him with the baton. (Defs. Resp. to Pl. St. ¶¶ 12-16).

II.LEGAL STANDARD

"The court shall grant summary judgment 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 (1986). In determining whether factual issues exist, the court does not "judge the credibility of the witnesses, evaluate the weight of the evidence, or determine the truth of the matter. The only question is whether there is a genuine issue of fact." Gonzalez v. City of Elgin, 578 F.3d 526, 529 (7th Cir. 2009).

Rule 56 mandates, however, that the party opposing a motion for summary judgment may not rest on the pleadings or mere speculation. See Springer v. Durflinger,518 F.3d 479, 484 (7th Cir. 2008). It must instead affirmatively demonstrate, through the presentation of admissible evidence, that there is a genuine issue of material fact to be resolved at trial. United States v. 5443 Suffield Terrace, Skokie, Ill.,607 F.3d 504, 510 (7th Cir. 2010). If there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact, the court must view the relevant evidence in the light most ...


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