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Saucedo v. City of Chicago

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

June 11, 2015

SINAI FLORES SAUCEDO, as Administrator of the Estate of Oliverio Saucedo, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, JOSE GOMEZ, ERACLIO RUIZ, AND PATRICK GOLDEN, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES B. ZAGEL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Sinai Flores Saucedo ("Plaintiff"), the administrator of the estate of decedent Oliverio Saucedo ("Saucedo"), brings suit against Defendants Chicago Police Department Detectives Jose Gomez ("Gomez"), Eraclio Ruiz ("Ruiz"), and Patrick Golden ("Golden") (referred to collectively at times as "Defendant Detectives") and the City of Chicago ("the City") for violating Saucedo's Fourth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 and state law claims under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act and Illinois Survival Act. Defendants now move for summary judgment on all counts under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For the following reasons, Defendants' motions are granted as to Counts I, II, and III in its entirety, and Count IV in part.

I. STATEMENT OF FACTS

1. Saucedo's Arrest, Custody, and Death

On April 16, 2010, Saucedo was arrested by the Chicago Police Department ("CPD") as a suspect in the fatal shooting of D'Anthony Lopez. Detective Gomez was assigned to lead the Lopez homicide investigation, and Detectives Ruiz and Golden were assigned to assist Gomez. Saucedo was taken into custody and was administered a pat-down search, which did not reveal any harmful items. Saucedo was handcuffed and turned over to Ruiz and Golden, and Ruiz performed a routine custodial search of Saucedo's person that did not reveal any contraband or hidden items. Saucedo was wearing gym shorts, which Ruiz lifted to reveal only a pair of briefs underneath.

Ruiz and Golden then transported Saucedo to the Detective Division of Area 4 headquarters, and Saucedo was briefly placed in Interview Room D at 6:35 a.m. Ruiz removed Saucedo's handcuffs and performed another search of Saucedo's person, including Saucedo's waistband, that did not reveal any illegal or potentially harmful items. At 6:55 a.m., Ruiz and Golden moved Saucedo into Interview Room A, which contained a windowless door, a moveable chair, and a camouflaged camera that records video as an Electronic Recording Image ("ERI"). Saucedo was never restrained inside either interview room.

Over the next three hours, Saucedo participated in two physical line-ups, to and from which Saucedo was escorted by Golden. Saucedo was not searched when leaving and re-entering Interview Room A. The line-ups concluded at 10:11 a.m., at which point Gomez informed the Cook County's State's Attorney's Office of Felony Review ("Felony Review") that he would be charging Saucedo with first-degree murder. Pursuant to Felony Review policy, Assistant State's Attorney Brad Dickey ("ASA Dickey") arrived at Area 4 headquarters to review, log, and burn the ERI videotape of Interview Room A before approving contemplated felony charges.

At 10:57 a.m., Gomez entered Interview Room A, informed Saucedo that several witnesses identified him as the shooter, and read Saucedo his Miranda rights. Saucedo requested a pen and paper to write a letter to his mother, which Gomez refused. Gomez exited the room at 11:02 a.m. At approximately 12:06 p.m., ASA Dickey informed Gomez that he had observed Saucedo secrete a string from his pants and conceal it on his person on the ERI video. Gomez immediately walked to Interview Room A where he discovered Saucedo hanging from the top inner hinge of the door by his waistband drawstring. Golden responded to Gomez's call for help and together they cut the drawstring and released Saucedo. Saucedo was unconscious, unresponsive, and without respiration. Resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful, and Saucedo was pronounced dead. An investigation concluded that Saucedo's death was a non-criminal death by suicide.

2. Saucedo's Suicide

While Saucedo was held in Interview Room A, he removed a string from the waistband of his shorts using his teeth. At various points, Saucedo concealed the string underneath his clothing on different parts of his body, tested the string on the top hinge of the door, and looked underneath the door several times. At 10:47 a.m., Saucedo removed the string from his upper left arm, secured the string over the top hinge, pulled the chair to the corner of the room and then wrapped the string around his head. He then removed the string from around his head, pushed the chair away from the corner of the door, concealed the string on his upper left arm underneath his shirt, and knocked loudly on the door. Gomez entered the room at 10:57 a.m.

After Gomez exited the room at 11:02 a.m., Saucedo immediately removed the string from his upper left arm and walked to the door. Saucedo looked underneath the door, pushed the chair to the door, climbed the chair, and secured the string to the top hinge of the door. At 11:04 a.m., Saucedo hanged himself with the string by kicking the chair away. Saucedo lost consciousness within ten to fifteen seconds of hanging himself and was clinically dead within three to five minutes.

3. Saucedo's Suicidal History

Saucedo had no prior history of depression nor had he ever sought or received medical treatment for depression or sadness. While at Area 4 headquarters, Saucedo never indicated to any officer that he had either a history of mental illness or had previously attempted suicide. While he was alive, Saucedo never expressed feelings of sadness or depression, a desire to harm himself, or suicidal thoughts to any of his family members. To his family's knowledge, Saucedo was neither born with any birth defects or mental disabilities nor suffering from any physical or mental medical conditions at the time of his arrest. Saucedo's family also did not know Saucedo to have ever attempted to kill himself and were never told about any suicide attempt. His sister, Maria, and his brother, Carlos, who were both present at Area 4 headquarters, neither told Defendant Detectives that Saucedo had expressed any desire to harm himself nor did they make Defendant Detectives aware of any mental illness or prior suicidal tendencies. Saucedo never indicated that he wanted to harm himself or expressed suicidal thoughts during his interactions with Defendant Detectives.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment should be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, Ind., 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir.2001). The Court's "function is not to weigh the evidence but merely to determine if there is a genuine issue for trial." Bennett v. Roberts, 295 F.3d 687, 694 (7th Cir.2002).

Once the moving party has set forth the basis for summary judgment, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party who must go beyond mere allegations and offer specific facts demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). The nonmoving party must offer more than "[c]onclusory allegations, unsupported by specific facts" in order to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 773 (7th Cir.2003) (citing Lujan v. Nat'l Wildfire Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990)). A party will be successful in opposing summary judgment only if it presents "definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion." EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir.2000). I ...


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