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Patrick v. City of Chicago

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

December 17, 2014

DEON PATRICK, Plaintiff,


RONALD A. GUAMN, District Judge.

Plaintiff, who spent twenty-one years in prison for a murder he did not commit, sues the City of Chicago, Chicago police officers Anthony Villardita, Thomas Johnson, Rick Abreu, Terry O'Connor, Brian Killacky, Sean Glinski, Michael Berti, and other unidentified police officers (collectively, "the officers"), Cook County Assistant State's Attorneys Joseph Magats and Martin Fogarty ("ASAs"), and other unidentified Cook County Assistant State's attorneys pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for conspiring to violate and violating his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and for maliciously prosecuting him and intentionally inflicting emotional distress on him. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), [2] the officers move to dismiss Counts I-VI, and X, and the City and ASAs move to dismiss Counts I-VII, and IX-XIII. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motions.


On November 16, 1992, Jeffery Lassiter and Sharon Haugabook were shot and killed in Lassiter's apartment at 910 West Agatite Street in Chicago. (Compl. ¶ 13.) Immediately after the murders, eyewitness Faye McCoy told several police officers that she saw "Goldie, " whose real name is Dennis Mixon, leaving the courtyard of Lassiter's building with three other men. ( Id. ¶ 14.) McCoy, who was active in the community, told the officers that she only recognized Mixon, and that neither he nor the three other men were from the neighborhood. ( Id. ) McCoy later identified Mixon from a photo array as one of the four men she saw leaving the courtyard of Lassiter's building. ( Id. ¶ 15.)

The officers, however, could not find Mixon. ( Id. ¶ 16.) On November 26, 1992, defendant Villardita went on vacation, leaving a note for his colleagues that said, "This case better be cleared by the time I get back....'" ( Id. ) Between the date of the murder and December 1, when Villardita returned from vacation, the officers did not discover any evidence that linked plaintiff or the other young men who were also charged with the crimes to the murders. ( Id. ¶ 17.)

On December 2, 1992, the officers arrested plaintiff, Lewis Gardner, Akia Phillips, Paul Phillips, Daniel Taylor, Joseph Brown, and Rodney Mathews for the murders. ( Id. ¶¶ 13, 18, 23, 24.) Gardner, who has an IQ of 70, was then fifteen years old, Akia Phillips was seventeen years old, Paul Phillips was eighteen years old, and plaintiff was twenty years old. ( Id. ¶¶ 1, 18.)

The officers and ASA Fogarty questioned Gardner for more than fifteen hours without his mother or a lawyer present, and told him he could go home if he agreed to the false statement that defendants had given him, which implicated plaintiff and the others. ( Id. ¶ 19.) Gardner agreed, and at 3:20 a.m. on December 3, 1992, he gave a false confession to ASA Fogarty. ( Id. ¶¶ 19-20.)

A few hours later, Akia Phillips and Daniel Taylor gave similar false confessions to ASA Fogarty and Magats, respectively. ( Id. ¶¶ 21-23.) The officers and ASAs knew or should have known that Gardner, Akia's and Taylor's confessions were false because they contained statements that could not have been true and/or conflicted with existing evidence. ( Id. ¶¶ 20-23.)

Meanwhile, plaintiff was also being interrogated. ( Id. ¶ 24.) During the interrogation, which lasted nearly twenty-eight-hours, he was handcuffed by one arm to a wall, so he had either had to stand or sit on the floor with one arm stretched above him. ( Id. ¶ 24.) Though plaintiff asked for a lawyer by name, neither the officers nor ASA Magats let him call her or anyone else. ( Id. ¶¶ 25, 27.) The officers did not give plaintiff anything to eat or drink, would not let him sleep, and told him he could go home if he confessed. ( Id. ¶ 25.) They gave plaintiff the false confessions of Gardner, Akia and Paul Phillips, and Taylor, and periodically brought them to plaintiff's interrogation room, where they pointed at him and said he was the killer. ( Id. ¶¶ 25, 29-30.) The officers told plaintiff they would beat him, and he would end up in the electric chair if he did not confess. ( Id. ¶¶ 25, 29.) Ultimately, plaintiff signed the false confession ASA Magats and the officers gave to him. ( Id. ¶¶ 31-32.)

At some point during plaintiff's interrogation, eyewitness McCoy was brought in to view a lineup that included plaintiff, Daniel Taylor, Paul Phillips, and Rodney Mathews. ( Id. ¶ 34.) McCoy unequivocally stated that none of the men, all of whom she recognized from the neighborhood, was among the group she saw leaving the courtyard of Lassiter's building on the night of the murders. ( Id. ) Instead of documenting the actual results of the lineup, the officers created a report that said McCoy only said she was afraid to go to court. ( Id. )

All of the false confessions said that Daniel Taylor planned the murders, met with the other men at Clarendon Park to do so, and was one of the four men inside the apartment when the murders were committed. ( Id. ¶ 35.) In his own confession, Taylor said that he hid the murder weapon. ( Id. )

After giving the false confession, however, Taylor told the officers he could not have committed the murders because he was in police custody at the time they were committed. ( Id. ¶ 36.) An arrest report and bond slip established that Taylor had been arrested for disorderly conduct at 6:45 p.m. on the night of the murders, and was in a CPD lock-up at Addison and Halsted when the murders were committed. ( Id. ) That fact was also corroborated by James Anderson, who was in the lock up with Taylor that night, and immediately identified Taylor as his cell mate when the police showed him Taylor's photo. ( Id. ¶ 41.) Anderson said one officer took notes about what he said, but neither the notes nor a report of the interview with Anderson were ever given to plaintiff. ( Id. ¶¶ 41-42.)

The information about Taylor did not, however, prompt defendants to release Taylor, plaintiff, and the others, or to redirect the investigation. ( Id. ¶ 37.) Instead, two days after learning that Taylor was in a CPD lock up at the time of the murders, officers Villardita and Johnson coerced another man, Adrian Grimes, into falsely stating that he saw Taylor and the others meeting in Clarendon Park when Taylor was in the lock up. ( Id. ¶ 38.) The officers obtained Grimes' cooperation by reinstating drug charges against him and offering him leniency on the charges if he made the false statement. ( Id. ) Villardita and Johnson memorialized Grimes' false statement in a report, which they gave to the grand jury without telling the prosecutors, plaintiff, or the other defendants that the report was false. ( Id. ¶ 39.)

In addition, Villardita and Johnson had officers Berti and Glinski write a false report claiming that they stopped someone they knew as "Black T" and "Dan Taylor" ninety minutes after the murders occurred and took him with them as they went to look for another suspect. ( Id. ¶ 40.) The government gave this report to plaintiff before his trial but did not tell him it was false. ( Id. )

Several months later, the police arrested Dennis Mixon, who was the initial suspect in the case. ( Id. ¶ 43.) The officers coerced Mixon into making a statement that implicated plaintiff and the six other men who had been charged with the murders. ( Id. ) Much later, Mixon recanted that portion of his confession. ( Id. )

In 1993, plaintiff was tried and convicted of two counts of first degree murder, armed robbery, and home invasion. ( Id. ¶ 45.) Though the government asked for the death penalty, plaintiff was ultimately sentenced to natural life in prison without the possibility of parole. ( Id. ¶ 45.) Taylor, Gardner, and Paul Phillips were also convicted and sentenced to extended prison terms. ( Id. ¶ 47.)

On January 10, 2014, twenty-one years after he was imprisoned, the Cook County State's Attorney moved to vacate plaintiff's conviction, and on January 23, 2014, the Circuit Court of Cook County issued a Certificate of Innocence to him. ( Id. ¶¶ 1-2.)


On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint, drawing all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor. Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d 575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009). "[A] complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations" but must contain "enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

In Count I, plaintiff alleges that by coercing a false confession from him, the officers and ASA Magats violated his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. The officers contend that this claim is time-barred. Untimeliness is an affirmative defense, see Rule 8(c), and thus is not an appropriate basis for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) unless plaintiff pleads facts that establish "an impenetrable defense." Xechem, Inc. v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 372 F.3d 899, 901 (7th Cir. 2004). Whether that is the case here depends on when plaintiff's claim accrued.

Plaintiff, relying on Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), argues that the claim did not accrue until January 2014, when his conviction was vacated. The plaintiff in Heck, after being convicted of manslaughter in state court, filed a § 1983 suit against the officers and prosecutors who secured the conviction. Id. at 478. Heck alleged that the defendants had violated his rights by "knowingly destroying' [exculpatory] evidence" and using an "[an] unlawful voice identification procedure" at his trial. Id. at 479. The district and appellate courts dismissed the suit, reasoning that plaintiff was really seeking a writ of habeas corpus, and therefore had to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit. Id. at 479-80. The Supreme Court disagreed, and held that:

[T]o recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254.... Thus, when a state prisoner seeks damages in a § 1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of ...

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