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Idris v. Conway

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

August 27, 2014

Elijah Idris, Plaintiff,
Officer John Conway, Officer William Moriarty, and the City of Chicago, Defendants.


VIRGINIA M. KENDALL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Elijah Idris brought the instant three-count Complaint on August 9, 2012, alleging that Defendants Officer John Conway, Officer William Moriarty, and the City of Chicago violated his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Dkt. 1). Specifically, Idris contends that the Defendants (1) committed an unreasonable seizure of his person; (2) used excessive force in effectuating his arrest; and (3) pursued a malicious prosecution in violation of Illinois law, thereby depriving Idris of his rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States in connection with an incident occurring at O'Hare airport. The Defendants now move for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the Defendants' motion is denied with respect to Counts I and III of the Complaint, but granted as to Count II.


The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. As a preliminary matter, the Defendants' argument in their Reply brief that Idris fails to set out any material issue of fact because he cites to inaccurate evidence in the record is unavailing. Although a number of Idris' responses and additional statements of fact point to evidence that is not explicitly opposite of the Defendants' contentions, these responses create the appearance of two different versions of the incident. See Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 773 (7th Cir. 2003) (where material facts specifically averred by nonmoving party contradict facts averred by party moving for summary judgment, motion must be denied). The fact that certain of these responses are not found in an affidavit submitted by Idris or exactly replicated in his deposition does not prevent the Court from recognizing the reasonable inference that disputed material events exist.[2] Moreover, these responses and additions are based on personal knowledge that Idris would be able to testify to at trial. Therefore, this Court will not ignore these statements.

Parties Involved

Idris is a 41 year-old African-American massage therapist living in Chicago, Illinois. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 5; Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 1). Previously, Idris worked as a ramp agent for two airlines at O'Hare Airport. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 6). Idris has familiarity with routine arrest procedures, including handcuffing practices, and has been arrested for disorderly conduct in the past. ( Id. at ¶ 7). Idris acknowledges that tension exists due to his earlier encounters with the Chicago police. ( Id. at ¶ 8). Officers Moriarty and Conway are police officers employed by the Chicago Police Department ("CPD"). ( Id. at ¶ 3). Moriarty has been a Chicago police officer for 24 years and has been assigned to O'Hare for approximately five years. ( Id. at ¶ 9). Conway has been a Chicago police officer for over 19 years and has been detailed to O'Hare since 2010. ( Id. at ¶ 10).

On the day of the incident, January 3, 2012, Moriarty and Conway were part of a tactical team tasked with patrolling O'Hare for unlawful activity, including baggage theft. ( Id. at ¶ 11). The Officers were patrolling for baggage thieves because airlines had reported incidents of baggage theft. ( Id. at ¶ 12). While on baggage theft patrol, the Officers were in plain clothes, off the radio, and on the lookout for unusual behavior at the baggage claim areas. ( Id. at ¶ 13). On this particular day, Moriarty was monitoring baggage claim carousels four and five. (Def. Resp. to Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 3).

Officers' Encounter with Idris

On January 3, 2012, Idris landed at O'Hare's Terminal 3 at 2:45 PM, returning from a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶¶ 15, 17). Idris was out late the night before and had only slept for two hours. ( Id. at ¶ 16). Idris' luggage consisted of a white messenger carry-on bag and a dark, rolling suitcase which he had checked. ( Id. at ¶ 18). After deplaning, Idris remained in the terminal for twenty minutes while he charged his phone and made calls. ( Id. at ¶ 19). Idris did not rush to collect his checked luggage because he knew the airline employees removed unclaimed bags and took them to their office. ( Id. at ¶ 20). Idris proceeded to collect his suitcase from the airline office after it had been removed from the carousel. ( Id. at ¶ 21). Idris then began the walk towards the Chicago Transit Authority ("CTA") Blue Line, a mass-transit train system between O'Hare and downtown Chicago, located within the airport. ( Id. at ¶ 22). Conway was patrolling near the CTA platform while Moriarty was monitoring the baggage claim area in Terminal 3. ( Id. at ¶ 23).

Idris initially caught Moriarty's attention in the baggage claim area because he had not seen Idris approach from the area where travelers normally originate. ( Id. at ¶ 24). In Moriarty's experience, individuals who carry dirty bags are usually not airline passengers, however, the parties dispute Idris' appearance. ( Id. at ¶ 26). The Officers claim that Idris was disheveled, unkempt, dirty, and that his white bag was old and dilapidated while the rolling suitcase was much newer. ( Id. at ¶ 25).Idris maintains that he was neither unkempt not dirty, was wearing jeans and a fleece jacket, and that his white bag was not dirty. (Pl. 56.1 St. ¶¶ 5-6). Moriarty began following Idris down an escalator and contends that Idris repeatedly looked back in his direction. (Def 56.1 St. ¶ 27). In the past, Moriarty had experienced incidents where individuals would steal bags, go to the bathrooms en route to the CTA platform, and riffle through the luggage. ( Id. at ¶ 29; Def. Resp. to Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 8). After observing Idris, Moriarty called Conway and told him that Idris may have stolen a bag but that he did not see Idris take anything from the carousel. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 30; Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 9). Moriarty also provided a description of Idris. ( Id. ).

As Idris stepped on a moving walkway heading towards the CTA platform, Moriarty called out to him but Idris does not remember hearing anything. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶¶ 31-33). The first time Idris noticed any officer was when Moriarty grabbed his shoulder and said "you stole this luggage." ( Id. at ¶¶ 34-35; Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 11). Conway approached from the opposite end of the walkway. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 36). The parties dispute whether Conway displayed his CPD identification at this time. Conway asked Idris to provide identification and questioned whether the rolling luggage belonged to him. ( Id. at ¶ 38). Idris asked the Officers how they determined he stole his luggage and asked "what's going on?" and "what's the problem?" (Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 11). The parties dispute the level of hostility shown by Idris, but agree that Idris told the Officers he could provide his identification after exiting the moving walkway and that Idris went with the Officers willingly to an area near an elevator bank whether they would not impede foot traffic. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶¶ 39, 44; Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 12). The Officers state that Idris relentlessly questioned the Officers, raised his voice, swore at the Officers, and was loud and combative throughout. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶¶ 40-43, 46). Idris maintains that he was upset by being detained for what he found to be no apparent reason, but that he did not throw his bags to the ground or wave his arms and make fists, nor was he aggressive towards the Officers. (Pl. 56.1 St. ¶¶ 18, 20). Idris admits to saying "this is bullshit" during the sequence of events, but contends it was in response to the Officers swearing. ( Id. at ¶ 19; Pl. Resp. to Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 43).

Idris spoke with the Officers for two to three minutes and showed them his identification, boarding pass, hotel receipt, and bag tag. (Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 13). The Officers determined that the dark rolling luggage was not stolen. ( Id. at ¶ 16). During the interaction near the elevator bank, a group of people converged around Idris and the Officers, but the parties dispute the number of people present. (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 48). Officer Michael Crooker, an assisting officer on scene, stated that Idris was "explosive" and his behavior was "alarming, " while Idris holds that he never made any threatening movements toward the Officers. ( Id. at ¶ 49). Crooker believed that Idris was attempting to draw the group of people into the situation. ( Id. at ¶ 50). Officer Jack Pasquale also stated that Idris was uncooperative. ( Id. at ¶ 55). Conway then radioed for uniformed officer back-up and Idris was arrested for disorderly conduct. ( Id. at ¶¶ 51-52; Pl. 56.1 St. ¶ 17).

The Officers Handcuff Idris

In effectuating the arrest, Conway placed handcuffs on Idris' right wrist in front of Idris' body and then pulled Idris' right arm behind his back to cuff his left wrist, which Idris described as "awkward." (Def. 56.1 St. ¶ 54). Idris complained about the tightness of the handcuffs immediately after being cuffed. ( Id. at ¶ 55). Idris was placed in a squad car to be taken to the O'Hare police station approximately two to five minutes away, during which he complained about the handcuffs again. ( Id. at ¶ 56). Upon arriving at the station, Idris complained about the tightness of the handcuffs for the third time and Conway removed the handcuff from Idris' right wrist and cuffed him to a bench. ( Id. at ¶ 57). After paperwork was completed at the O'Hare station, Idris was transferred to the 16th District police station in handcuffs. ( Id. at ¶ 62). In total, Idris' right wrist was handcuffed for approximately sixty minutes. ( Id. at ¶ 65).

Idris claims that as a result of the handcuffing procedure, he suffered an injury to his right arm. ( Id. at ¶ 67). Idris had bruising and swelling for a period of time after the arrest, and the injury took the form of a contusion five inches above his wrist four days after the arrest. ( Id. at ¶¶ 69-70). Idris waited six days after the arrest before seeking medical treatment at Stroger Hospital, where his January 9, 2012 medical records reflect that Idris indicated wrist pain and swelling and that the incident had ...

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