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Smith v. Ramirez

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

August 14, 2014



AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

Before the court is the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on Counts I, II, and V of the First Amended Complaint. For the reasons explained below, the motion is denied.


This is a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 brought by Anthony Smith against the City of Chicago and Chicago police officers Tony Ramirez, Ivan Ramos, Israel Valentin, and Ricky Villacis. It arises out of Smith's July 7, 2010 arrest for drinking alcoholic liquor on a public way, resisting a peace officer, and aggravated assault to a police officer. On that date at about 11:00 p.m., Smith was standing with a group of approximately five to ten[1] "dark-skinned" African-American or Latino men on the sidewalk near the corner of Humboldt Boulevard and Wabansia Avenue in Chicago. (Defs.' Resp. to Pl.'s R. 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 15, 17.) The four defendants, who were part of a special "saturation team" of officers patrolling an area that included the intersection of Humboldt and Wabansia, drove by in a police car and saw that at least some of the men standing near the corner were holding clear plastic cups containing clear liquid. Some of the officers believed that the individuals in the group might be drinking alcohol. According to Villacis, the group was engaged in loud conversation. According to Villacis and Ramos, some people in the group "bladed" their stance as the officers drove by. (The officers describe the act of "blading" one's stance as, generally, a turning of one's body to the side in an attempt to hide something that one is holding or carrying.) The officers did not stop at the scene, but did return ten to twenty minutes later.

Upon their return, the officers observed that the men with plastic cups were still on the sidewalk at Humboldt and Wabansia. They stopped their car and got out. According to the officers, as they approached the group, some people in the group "chugged" their drink and/or dropped or threw their cup on the ground, and somewalked away from the scene. The officers detained and arrested four of the men, including plaintiff, for drinking on the public way in violation of Chicago Municipal Code § 8-4-030. The details of plaintiff's arrest will be discussed below.

Plaintiff alleges that Ramirez[2] used excessive force against him when patting him down against the police car and that the other officers failed to intervene. He also alleges that all four defendant officers battered him at Chicago's 14th District police station and that one or more of the officers used a taser on him. (The excessive force allegations are not pertinent to the instant motion.)

In addition to the drinking charge, plaintiff was charged with resisting a peace officer and aggravated assault to a police officer. Ramirez and Villacis signed the criminal complaints. Plaintiff was tried on the resisting and assault charges; after Ramirez testified at the trial, the state-court judge granted plaintiff's motion for directed findings of not guilty. The drinking charge was non-suited by the City of Chicago, so it was not decided on the merits.

The First Amended Complaint asserts claims for § 1983 unlawful seizure against the officer defendants (Count I); § 1983 false arrest against Villacis and Ramirez (Count II); § 1983 excessive force against the officer defendants (Count III); § 1983 failure to intervene against the officer defendants (Count IV); state-law malicious prosecution against Villacis and Ramirez (Count V); and state-law indemnification against the City (Count VI).

Plaintiff moves for summary judgment on Counts I, II, and V.


I. Summary Judgment Standards

"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). In considering such a motion, the court construes the evidence and all inferences that reasonably can be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Kvapil v. Chippewa County, Wis., 752 F.3d 708, 712 (7th Cir. 2014). "The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). "Summary judgment should be denied if the dispute is genuine': if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Talanda v. KFC Nat'l Mgmt. Co. , 140 F.3d 1090, 1095 (7th Cir. 1998) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)); see also Bunn v. Khoury Enters., Inc., 753 F.3d 676, 682 (7th Cir. 2014). The court will enter summary judgment against a party who does not "come forward with evidence that would reasonably permit the finder of fact to find in [its] favor on a material question." McGrath v. Gillis , 44 F.3d 567, 569 (7th Cir. 1995).

II. Counts I and II (Unlawful Seizure and False Arrest)

Counts I and II are Fourth Amendment claims. Count I is a claim against all of the officer defendants for illegal seizure. Plaintiff contends that the defendants' own version of the events establishes that they lacked a reasonable suspicion to stop and detain him for purposes of investigating whether he was violating § 8-4-030 or committing any other offense and that they lacked a reasonable suspicion to frisk him. With the exception of plaintiff's affidavit in which plaintiff states where he was standing and attaches the photographs of the area around the intersection of Humboldt and ...

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