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Manning v. City of Blue Island

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

March 31, 2015

TRAQUISE MANNING, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF BLUE ISLAND and BLUE ISLAND POLICE OFFICER CARLOS ORTEGA, Star #160, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

SARA L. ELLIS, District Judge.

Traquise Manning, after being acquitted of attempted armed robbery, sued Defendant Officer Carlos Ortega for the alleged suppression of exculpatory evidence and for false arrest stemming from a show-up identification during the investigation of the armed robbery, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. Additionally, Manning brought a claim for malicious prosecution against Ortega and Defendant City of Blue Island ("City") and for indemnification under 745 Ill. Comp. Stat. 10/9-102 against the City. Defendants moved for summary judgment on all claims [65]. Because Ortega is entitled to qualified immunity, and Count II is barred by the statute of limitations, summary judgment is entered for Defendants on Manning's due process (Count I) and false arrest (Count II) claims. Because Ortega is not liable on these counts, judgment is entered for the City on Manning's claim for indemnification (Count III). Finally, because there are no facts to create a triable issue on Manning's malicious prosecution claim, summary judgment is entered for Defendants on Count IV. The Court, therefore, grants Defendants' motion in its entirety and this case is terminated.

BACKGROUND[1]

On May 12, 2010, Officer Ortega, a City police officer, responded to the scene of an attempted armed robbery at 2525 West Cochran Street in Blue Island, Illinois. When Ortega arrived, he interviewed the victim, Victor Ramos, about the crime. Ramos recounted that, at approximately 9:20 p.m., he was on his property outside his home when three men with handguns approached him and ordered him to stop and shut up. Ramos retreated from the men toward his home. One of the three pointed his gun at Ramos and one of the men instructed the others to hit Ramos. Ramos yelled for help and the men ran away. Ramos described the men who attempted to rob him as three African-American males, approximately 5'7" to 6'0" in height, wearing black hoodies and blue jeans. Ramos told Ortega that the three men had handguns.

Ortega arrived at Ramos' home to interview him less than five minutes after Ramos had called for help during the robbery. Ortega broadcast Ramos' description of his assailants over the police radio and then received a call from other police officers that they had detained two possible suspects matching that description. Ortega told the other officers he would bring Ramos to the location of the suspects for a show-up. Ortega took Ramos by car to the location of the first suspect, 2540 Lewis Street, which was about one block from Ramos' residence and less than one minute's travel time. Manning was the suspect stopped at 2540 Lewis Street. Ortega parked the police car across the street from Manning, so that there were no obstructions in Ramos' line of sight. Manning was wearing blue jeans and a black hoodie with the hood off. At the time Ortega observed Manning from the police car, Manning was not wearing handcuffs. There were twenty to fifty feet between the parked car and Manning. Detectives were standing with Manning on the street and those detectives positioned Manning so that Ramos had a frontal view of him. Manning was under street lights, and Ortega's headlights and spotlight were pointed at him. Manning was instructed to look into the spotlight, which he did. When Ortega asked Ramos if he recognized anyone standing with the detectives in front of them, Ramos responded affirmatively and positively identified Manning as one of the men involved in the attempted armed robbery. Ortega then asked Ramos if he was sure of the positive identification and Ramos repeated his positive identification of Manning.

Manning was charged with one count of attempted robbery and acquitted after a bench trial. This lawsuit followed.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment obviates the need for a trial where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. To determine whether a genuine issue of fact exists, the Court must pierce the pleadings and assess the proof as presented in depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits that are part of the record. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 & advisory committee's notes. The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of proving that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In response, the non-moving party cannot rest on mere pleadings alone but must use the evidentiary tools listed above to identify specific material facts that demonstrate a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324; Insolia v. Philip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 598-99 (7th Cir. 2000). Although a bare contention that an issue of fact exists is insufficient to create a factual dispute, Bellaver v. Quanex Corp., 200 F.3d 485, 492 (7th Cir. 2000), the Court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

ANALYSIS

I. Count I ( Brady Violation)

Defendants move for summary judgment on Count I on the basis of qualified immunity, arguing that Manning cannot establish any constitutional violation because he has not shown that Ortega suppressed evidence and, even if such suppression was proven, he has not produced facts to demonstrate materiality. Manning argues in response that Ortega committed a due process violation under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), by suppressing the information that (1) Mr. Ramos never saw the third offender; (2) Mr. Ramos' identification was caused by Defendants' suggestion; and (3) Manning was negatively identified in a related line up. Because Manning has not demonstrated that Ortega suppressed any evidence, there is no constitutional violation and Ortega is entitled to qualified immunity.

Qualified immunity protects a police officer from civil liability so long as his or her conduct does not violate a clearly established statutory or constitutional right about which a reasonable officer would have known. Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231, 129 S.Ct. 808, 172 L.Ed.2d 565 (2009). In deciding whether qualified immunity applies, the Court examines whether the facts shown "make out a violation of a constitutional right" and whether that right was "clearly established" at the time of the officer's actions. Id. at 232 (quoting Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201, 121 S.Ct. 2151, 150 L.Ed.2d 272 (2009)), id. at 236 (making the order of inquiry discretionary). A right is clearly established when "[t]he contours of the right [are] sufficiently clear that a reasonable official would understand that what he is doing violates that right." Jacobs v. City of Chicago, 215 F.3d 758, 766 (7th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). Although qualified immunity is a defense, Manning bears the burden of proof to show a constitutional violation and that the right was clearly established. See Eversole v. Steele, 59 F.3d 710, 717 (7th Cir. 1995). If a reasonable officer could have believed the action taken was lawful, in light of clearly established law and the facts known to the officer at the time, qualified immunity applies. Omdahl v. Lindholm, 170 F.3d 730, 733 (7th Cir. 1999).

Under Brady, a police officer is obligated to turn over exculpatory or impeaching evidence to the prosecutor, who then has a duty to disclose that evidence to the defense. Carvajal v. Dominguez, 542 F.3d 561, 566 (7th Cir. 2008) (considering qualified immunity defense). To prove a Brady violation, Manning must prove: (1) that the evidence is favorable to him, either because it is exculpatory or impeaching; (2) the evidence was either willfully or inadvertently suppressed by the government; and (3) the evidence was material-i.e. there is a reasonable probability that the result of the trial would have been different. Id. at 566-67. Suppression of evidence results when (1) the prosecution fails "to disclose the evidence in time for the defendant to make use of it, and (2) the evidence was not otherwise available to the defendant through the exercise of reasonable diligence." Id. at 567.

Manning argues that Ortega suppressed exculpatory evidence, specifically that: "1) Mr. Ramos never saw the third offender; 2) Mr. Ramos' identification was caused by the defendants' suggestion; and 3) Plaintiff was negatively identified in a related line up." Resp. at 3. With regard to the first issue, Manning contends that Ramos never saw the third offender during the robbery and that this detail was not included in Ortega's or Detective Sepessy's reports that were disclosed to Manning during discovery in his criminal case. Resp. at 4. However, Manning has not pointed to any facts to establish that Ramos told Ortega at the time of the identification that he never saw the third offender or that Ramos was identifying Manning specifically as the third offender. Manning's support for this argument is the statement: "Mr. Ramos did not lay his eyes' on Offender #3." Doc. 67 ¶ 67. That Ramos "did not lay his eyes' on Offender #3" is a free-floating statement, without any anchor in time or ...


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