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Kuri v. City of Chicago

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

January 10, 2014

ANTHONY KURI, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

JOAN B. GOTTSCHALL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Anthony Kuri brings a four-count First Amended Complaint against the City of Chicago (the "City") and nine individual City policy officers (the "defendant officers"), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, alleging violations of his right to a fair trial under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause, false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment, conspiracy to deprive him of his constitutional rights, and failure to intervene to prevent the violation of his constitutional rights, along with state-law claims, including false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. Kuri's claims are based on his allegation that he spent over three years in the Cook County Jail awaiting trial for a murder he did not commit. The defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint in its entirety pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The defendants argue that Kuri's claims are either barred by the relevant statute of limitations or fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons explained below, the court grants the motion in part and denies it in part. Counts II and V of the complaint are dismissed, but the motion is denied as to the remaining counts.

I. FACTS

The court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in Kuri's complaint as true for purposes of the motion to dismiss. See, e.g., Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A., 507 F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2007). In the early morning hours of July 24, 2009, a shooting occurred on the 4600 block of North Central Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. According to witnesses who gave reports to officers immediately following the shooting, a Hispanic male rode up on a bicycle and fired five or six shots at a minivan double-parked in the street. The driver, Gaurav Patel, was fatally injured. Tony Fernandez, seated on the passenger side of the van in the middle row of seats, sustained serious injuries. A third passenger, Zae Russell, who was seated in the third row of seats behind the driver, escaped unharmed.

The man on the bike who shot and killed Patel was David Gomez. Gomez eventually confessed to the murder, stating that he was alone at the time of the crime. After the shooting, Gomez ran away, leaving his bike at the scene. Paramedics arrived and transported Patel and Fernandez to the hospital. Russell, the victim who escaped unharmed, was arrested by one or more of the defendant officers, placed in handcuffs, and transported to the police station for questioning.

One or more of the defendant officers initially accused Russell of committing the shooting, stating that the shots could have been fired from inside the car. Russell was released later that day after hours of questioning. Eight days after the shooting, on August 1, 2009, one or more of the defendant officers showed photographs of known gang members to Fernandez, who remained hospitalized from his injuries. Fernandez could not identify anyone in the pictures as being the shooter.

On August 2, 2009, the defendant officers reviewed footage of a previous altercation between the victims (Patel, Fernandez and Russell) and Kuri and Gomez. The defendant officers relied on the footage to develop a theory of the case that involved Gomez as the shooter and Kuri as an accomplice.

On-scene investigators took the statements of three independent witnesses immediately following the shooting. The defendant officers also took a statement from Russell. The defendant officers indicated in a handwritten police report made while Russell was held at the station on July 24, 2009, that Russell had witnessed two male Hispanics in white t-shirts involved in the shooting. None of the statements by the independent witnesses, however, indicated that multiple persons were involved.

On August 2, 2009, the defendant officers showed Russell a photo spread that included Kuri. They told Russell that they "knew" that Kuri was involved in the shooting. The defendant officers further explained to Russell that if he picked Kuri from the photo spread as having been riding on the back of the shooter's bike at the time of the shooting, he would be able to help his friend Fernandez because the defendant officers could give Fernandez money for being the victim of a crime. Russell picked out Kuri from the photo spread.

Russell then spoke with Fernandez, who was still hospitalized, and relayed to him that the defendant officers had told him to pick out Kuri from a photo spread as having been riding on the back of the shooter's bike at the time of the shooting. That same day, on August 2, 2009, the defendant officers visited Fernandez in the hospital, and Fernandez picked out Kuri from the photo spread, as instructed.

Based only on these two photo identifications, an investigative alert was issued for Kuri's arrest. He was arrested on August 5, 2009, by the Area 5 Robbery Mission Team. He denied any involvement in the shooting and offered to take a polygraph test. The defendant officers falsely told him that he had failed the polygraph test, in an effort to coerce him into providing more information, which he did not have. No physical evidence linked Kuri to the scene of the shooting, and there were no witness accounts-aside from those of Russell and Fernandez-that placed him at the scene. The defendant officers could not locate Russell, and Fernandez remained hospitalized, so a live line-up could not be conducted on August 5, 2009. Kuri was allowed to leave.

On August 8, 2009, two independent witnesses came forward and voluntarily gave statements to the defendant officers regarding the July 24, 2009, shooting. Both witnesses stated that there was only one person involved in the shooting, just as the three independent witnesses had reported on the night of the shooting.

On the same day, Russell was located and transported to the police station, where he was fed details of the defendant officers' version of the shooting and gave a recorded statement implicating two persons, including Kuri, in the shooting. Based only on the photo identifications and Russell's statement, an arrest warrant was issued for Kuri. He was re-arrested in Rochelle, Illinois on September 8, 2009, and transported to Chicago to be questioned by one or more of the defendant officers. He again denied any involvement in the shooting. There was still no physical evidence linking Kuri to the shooting, and no witness accounts-aside from those of Russell and Fernandez-placed him at the scene. As neither Russell nor Fernandez could be located by the defendant officers, a live line-up could not be conducted with the only two witnesses who had identified Kuri.

The defendant officers caused charges to be brought against Kuri for the July 24, 2009, murder of Patel and the attempted murder of Fernandez and Russell. Kuri spent three and a half years in maximum security divisions of the Cook County Jail, where he contested the charges at every step. Faced with the knowledge that serious prison time would result if he were convicted of the charges, Kuri experienced daily hardship and stress, and additional damages associated with having to live under harsh conditions at the Cook County Jail.

During that time, forensic testing was performed on the bike that was left behind by the shooter on July 24, 2009. Kuri's fingerprints were not found on the handlebars, and his DNA was not found anywhere on the bike. Moreover, the bike left at the scene of the shooting did not have pegs on the back for carrying an additional rider, a fact which ...


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