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Elvers v. Karlos

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

July 22, 2015

SCOTT A. ELVERS and APRIL L. ARAGON, Plaintiffs,
v.
OFFICER KARLOS #761, OFFICER DOWDELL #289, OFFICER RUMINSKI #155, LIEUTENANT FLYKE #99, SERGEANT TRINIDAD #41, and COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JORGE L. ALONSO, District Judge.

In their first amended complaint, plaintiffs sue defendants for, as relevant here, unlawfully searching Aragon's apartment (Count I), falsely arresting Elvers (Counts II and III), and maliciously prosecuting Elvers (Count IV). The case is before the Court on plaintiffs' Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 motion for summary judgment on these claims. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the motion.

Facts

In December 2012, plaintiff Aragon rented apartment 1B at 1547 Silver Lane in Palatine, Illinois. (Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 1.) Her apartment, which was one of six in the building, had a front patio door and a back door near the parking lot. ( Id . ¶ 3.)

On December 19, 2012, at 9:43 p.m., a Cook County operator received a 911 call from an anonymous, female caller who reported that there was a domestic disturbance in progress in unit 1B. ( Id. ¶¶ 4-5.) The caller said she would let the officers into the building when they arrived. ( Id. ¶ 5.) At 9:44 p.m., the operator dispatched officers to the apartment, with defendant Ruminski assigned as the primary officer. ( Id. ¶ 6.) Ruminski knew from the dispatch that there had been two previous 911 calls from this building about domestic disputes, one made by "Aragon, A." and the other made by "April, " both of which involved Scott Elvers. ( Id. ¶ 10.)[1]

When Ruminski arrived at the apartment building a few minutes later, he flashed his light into the windows and patio door of Aragon's apartment, but did not see or hear anything. ( Id. ¶¶ 7-8.) He pressed the buzzers for all of the apartments, but no one let him in. ( Id. ¶ 8.) He then went to the back of the building, found the back door unlocked, and went in. ( Id. ¶ 9.) He knocked on the back door of Aragon's apartment but received no response. ( Id. )

At 10:22 and 10:23 p.m., respectively, defendants Trinidad and Karlos arrived at the building. ( Id. ¶ 11.) Trinidad and Ruminski went to the front of the building, and after ringing all of the buzzers, someone let them in. ( Id. ¶ 15.) When they went inside, a woman opened the door of apartment 1A, said she was the 911 caller, pointed to Aragon's apartment, and said something like, "they're at it again." ( Id.; Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 18; Pls.' Resp. Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 15g.) Defendants confirmed through dispatch that Aragon's car was in the parking lot and they found her name on the mailbox for apartment 1B. (Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 16.) Ruminski pressed his ear to the door of Aragon's apartment and heard rumbling, muffled noises coming from inside. ( Id. ¶ 18.)

At 10:38 p.m., defendant Flyke ordered Trinidad to breach the door of Aragon's apartment, after which Ruminski and defendant Dowdell kicked in the front door. ( Id. ¶¶ 18, 23.) Defendants breached the door "because they believed the situation inside [Aragon's] [a]partment posed a danger to its occupants' safety." (Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 19.)

Once inside, Ruminski and Dowdell opened the back door of the apartment for Karlos. (Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 24.) Together, they proceeded down a dimly-lit hallway toward a bedroom. ( Id. ) Karlos opened the bedroom door and saw a woman lying in street clothes on top of the bed and a man kneeling on the floor on the opposite side of it. ( Id. ¶¶ 25, 32.)

The parties dispute what happened next. Plaintiffs contend that Elvers obeyed the officers' commands, albeit after several prompts, and allowed himself to be handcuffed. (Pls.' LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶¶ 28-30, 35-36.) Defendants say Elvers refused to follow their orders and resisted being handcuffed. ( See Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶¶ 28-30, 35-36.)

Ultimately, Karlos arrested Elvers for obstructing a police officer by "knowingly resist[ing] the performance of Ofc. Karlos who is identified as a Cook County Sheriff Police Officer refused to open door to gain access to check the well-being of occupants." (Pls.' LR 56.1(a) Stmt. ¶ 38; Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 38.)

On May 29, 2013, the charge against Elvers was stricken with leave to reinstate. (Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) Stmt. ¶ 40.)

Discussion

To prevail on a summary judgment motion, "the movant [must] show[] 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). At this stage, we do not weigh evidence or determine the truth of the matters asserted. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). We view all evidence and draw all inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000). Summary ...


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