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Hill v. City of Chicago

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 30, 2014

MICHAEL HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, PROFIRIO SANTIAGO, and RUBEN REYNOSO, Defendants

Page 779

For Michael Hill, Plaintiff: Lawrence V. Jackowiak, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Lawrence V. Jackowiak, Chicago, IL; Adele D. Nicholas, Lawrence V. Jackowiak & Associates, Chicago, IL; Sara A Garber; Jackowiak Law Offices, Chicago, IL.

For City of Chicago, Defendant: Lindsay Erin Wilson Gowin, City of Chicago (30 N LS), Chicago, IL; Jill Russell, City of Chicago Department of Law, Federal Civil Rights Litigation Division, Chicago, IL.

For Porfirio Santiago, Ruben Reynoso, Defendants: Lindsay Erin Wilson Gowin, City of Chicago (30 N LS), Chicago, IL.

Page 780

Memorandum Opinion And Order

MANISH S. SHAH, United States District Court Judge.

Chicago Police Officers Profirio Santiago and Ruben Reynoso suspected that Michael Hill had been involved in a hand-to-hand drug deal. They approached and detained Hill. Reynoso handcuffed him, hurting Hill's wrist in the process, and searched Hill. The officers released Hill ten to thirty minutes later without charging him with any crime. In this case, Hill alleges that Santiago and Reynoso violated his constitutional rights by unreasonably seizing and searching him, and by using excessive force in handcuffing him. His claims are based on 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The City of Chicago is named as a defendant by virtue of the indemnification provisions of Illinois state law. Defendants move for summary judgment, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, and argue that there is no factual dispute as to either substantive liability or their qualified immunity defense. For the reasons discussed below, I grant the defendants' motion.

Summary judgment is appropriate only if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and the defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). I view the facts--and draw any reasonable inferences from those facts--in the light most favorable to Hill.

I. The Facts

The Initial Surveillance and Police Activity

A longtime, reliable informant for the Chicago Police Department told Officer

Page 781

Martin Obrecki that a middle-aged black man, of average weight and between 5'9? and 6'1? tall, dealt drugs in the morning-to-midday timeframe in the vicinity of 712 W. Diversey in Chicago. The informant said that the drug dealer came out of the building at 712 W. Diversey with drugs on his person and sold the drugs in hand-to-hand deals on the street or in people's cars. [75] at ¶ ¶ 3-4.[1] The structure at 712 W. Diversey is a nine-story apartment complex. [76] at ¶ 2.

Shortly after getting this tip on the morning of June 13, 2012, the police set up an operation near 712 W. Diversey. Defendants Santiago and Reynoso were part of the operation, with Obrecki conducting covert surveillance and relaying information to the other officers. [75] at ¶ ¶ 3, 6-9. Around 11:22 a.m., Obrecki saw a hand-to-hand drug deal take place in a car. A man matching the informant's description of the drug dealer got into a car, and the driver gave the man cash in exchange for something. The man got out of the car and went into the building at 712 W. Diversey. Obrecki relayed this information to the other officers. [75] at ¶ ¶ 10-11. Officers stopped the car, recovered crack cocaine from the driver, and relayed this information to the rest of the enforcement team, including Reynoso and Santiago. [75] at ¶ ¶ 12-13.

The Stop of Hill

At 11:30 a.m., Obrecki saw a man come out of 712 W. Diversey. Obrecki thought the man both fit the informant's description of the drug dealer and was the man who did the hand-to-hand deal in the car a few minutes earlier. Although Obrecki saw only the back of the drug dealer's head during the hand-to-hand deal, he believed the man coming out of the building was the same man because he fit the description and was the only person to come out of the building. See [75] at ¶ 14.[2] Hill lived in an apartment at 712 W. Diversey, walked out of that building at 11:30 a.m., and fit the description provided by the informant. [75] at ¶ ¶ 15-17.[3]

Sometime after 11:30 a.m., Reynoso and Santiago heard Obrecki say over the radio that he now saw the man he had previously seen sell drugs. Obrecki said that this man was walking westbound on Diversey, and was wearing tan pants. Obrecki instructed the enforcement cars to stop this person. Reynoso and Santiago saw Hill by the intersection, wearing tan pants. Officer Obrecki confirmed to Reynoso and Santiago that Hill was the correct person. [75] at ¶ ¶ 26-27.

Page 782

The parties dispute the details of the initial interaction between the defendants and Hill, so I accept Hill's version for purposes of this motion. Reynoso and Santiago drove up to Hill. Hill saw them and froze. One of the defendants told Hill to put his hands on the officers' car. According to Hill, he immediately complied (although Hill also testified that he initially froze and first asked the defendants why they were stopping him). [75] at ¶ ¶ 30-32.[4] Hill put his hands on the car, but it was hot, so he ...


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