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Martinez v. City of Chicago

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

March 30, 2016

DANIEL MARTINEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Robert M. Dow, Jr., United States District Judge

         Before the Court are Plaintiff Daniel Martinez's motion for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b) and for a new trial pursuant Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 [259] and Defendants' bill of costs [260].[1] For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for judgement as a matter of law and for a new trial [259] is denied. Defendants' bill of costs [260] is granted as modified, and they are awarded $9, 902.78 in costs.

         I. Background[2]

         On January 17, 2012, at approximately 3:30 p.m., two Chicago police officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop after observing a vehicle run a stop sign. The driver, Alberto Martinez, abandoned his vehicle, fled on foot, and tossed a .357 revolver as he ran. One officer, Reynaldo Nunez, pursued Alberto on foot as he ran through an alley, across several streets, and entered a residence on 55th Street and Talman Avenue in Chicago. The other officer recovered the gun, secured Alberto's vehicle, and then drove to 55th and Talman. The police dispatcher and Officer Nunez called for backup. Several units from nearby police districts responded. The units were warned that they sought a “person with a gun” and advised to “use caution.” [250-3, at 34.] Officer Nunez described Alberto as a Hispanic male with braids or a ponytail. [259-5, at 48.]

         The building at the corner of the 55th Street and Talman Avenue has two addresses: 2622 West 55th Street (where Alberto lived) and 2624 West 55th Street (where Alberto's brother, Plaintiff Daniel Martinez lived). The building has one garage and one fence surrounding a common backyard. Recordings of the police radio transmissions during the pursuit of Alberto describe the residence as “55 and Talman” (and similar variations) as well as 2622 West 55th Street. Officer Nunez used words like “building, ” “house, ” and “residence” to describe the location in his radio transmissions. [295-3, at 153.]

         Once Officer Nunez was inside 2622 West 55th Street, he asked the occupant, Vanessa Martinez (Plaintiff's sister), about the fleeing suspect. She pointed to the rear of the building. When Officer Nunez got to the backyard, Alberto could not be found. Vanessa later told another officer that the person who ran through the house might be her brother Alberto, and the officer radioed that the suspect's name was Alberto Martinez. Officer Nunez also radioed that the suspect “definitely went for 55th Street through the house, heading back north. He more than likely jumped over the fence.” [259-5, at 72.]

         Within minutes, other police units arrived at 55th Street and Talman, and they began searching the area. Among them were Officer Thomas Buehler and Defendant Officer Jeffrey Weber, as well as Defendant Officer Juan Chavez, who arrived separately. As Officers Weber and Buehler arrived, it was announced over the radio that the building was Alberto's “residence.” [259-3, at 38-39.] It was also announced that the suspect was wearing a gray shirt. Id. at 7. Although the suspect here had tossed his revolver while running, officers are trained that “if there is one gun, there is a good likelihood there's two” guns. Id. at 8.

         Officer Buehler searched the backyard. Id. at 6. Officer Weber entered the residence through the side door on Talman Avenue, and conducted a search of the residence for the suspect. Id. at 220, 231. When he entered the building at 55th Street and Talman, he thought that it was one residence. [259-4, at 115.] Officer Chavez entered 2622 West 55th Street through a rear door, which was not posted with address markers differentiating the two units. [259-3, at 155, 170-71.] Officer Chavez searched the unit, and then went into the alley in back to continue his search. Id. at 155.

         At roughly the same time, Plaintiff and his friend, Alexander Matias, drove back to 55th and Talman, having returned from buying new work boots from Sports Authority and food from McDonalds. Like his brother, Plaintiff's hair was chest-length, often worn in a ponytail. [259-2, at 130.] When Plaintiff and Matias arrived, multiple police vehicles were on the scene. Matias testified that he noticed the cop cars when they arrived. Id. at 71. He testified that Plaintiff left the car and “went to his house to see what was going on, ” while Matias stayed behind to gather up all of their belongings and garbage. Id. In contrast, Plaintiff testified that he did not notice any police officers around his property, did not expect to see any officers when he went inside his house, and did not run into his house. Id. at 125, 130, 182-84, 213-14. When Officer Buehler later found the vehicle, it was still running with the key in the ignition. [259-3, at 65.]

         When Plaintiff entered his home, he found his niece, Zanyda Martinez on the couch watching the cartoon Arthur, and Officer Weber standing next to her. Zanyda testified that she could see that Officer Weber was in full police uniform and knew he was a police officer. [259-2, at 23.] Plaintiff testified that it was too dark for him to tell if Officer Weber was a police officer because the curtains in the room were closed. Id. at 132. He described Officer Weber as an unknown “man in the black coat.” Id. at 137. Officer Weber testified that Plaintiff matched the description of the gunman (male, Hispanic, long hair, last name of Martinez) except that Plaintiff was wearing a red shirt. [259-4, at 49, 117.]

         There were several conflicting accounts of what happened next, although everyone agrees that the entire interaction lasted fewer than 20 seconds. Zanyda testified that after Plaintiff walked out of his bedroom, Officer Weber and another officer grabbed Plaintiff and took him to the ground. [259-2, at 37.] She testified that Plaintiff did not pull away, flail his arms, or throw any punches. Id. at 38. At one point she testified that she could not remember what was said, but she later testified that Plaintiff was ordered to get to the ground, he kept saying “what's going on?” but “they just put him down.” Id. at 37, 51.

         Plaintiff testified that he asked the black-coated man, “Hey, who the F are you and what are you doing here?” as soon as he walked in the house. Id. at 137. The unidentified man said, “Get on the ground. Get on the ground, ” to which Plaintiff kept saying “Who are you? What are you doing here? This is my house. Get out.” Id. Plaintiff then started to walk toward the front door, and someone stomped on his foot, grabbed his arm, pulled him down, and handcuffed him. Id. at 203-04. Plaintiff testified that the man in the black coat never identified himself as a Chicago Police Officer, told him why he was there, or showed him a warrant. Id. at 213-14. He also denied pulling away or flailing his arms. Id. at 214. Plaintiff later admitted that he was angry, used “a number of ‘F' words, ” was repeatedly “order[ed]” to get down, he did not follow those orders, but instead continued to move toward the door. Id. at 187, 215-17.

         Officer Weber testified that upon seeing Plaintiff, Plaintiff said “We didn't ‘F'ing call you” followed by a “series of f*ck yous, get the f*ck out of here.” [259-4, at 115.] Officer Weber testified that, at this point, he believed he was encountering the gunman. Id. at 115, 117. Officer Weber stated that he intended to detain Plaintiff so that other officers could confirm if this was the person they were searching for, and he ordered Plaintiff to put his hands behind his back. Id. at 118. Plaintiff continued directing profanities at Officer Weber, and “was pulling his arms away from” him so that Officer Weber “could not effect an arrest.” Id. at 118-19. Officer Weber then called for assistance, and Officer Chavez responded to help Officer Weber gain control of Plaintiff. Id. at 121. Plaintiff continued to pull away from Officer Chavez and flailed his arms, but was ultimately subdued. Id. at 119, 121. Officer Weber told Plaintiff that he was a Chicago police officer, but he could not recall when he said that. [259-4, at 40, 49.]

         Officer Chavez testified that he heard Officer Weber radio, “Come back in the house, ” and Officer Chavez entered the house through the door on Talman Avenue. [259-2, at 247-48; 259-3, at 88.] Officer Chavez also believed that the building on 55th and Talman was one residence. [259-3, at 153.] When he arrived inside, Officer Chavez heard Plaintiff say, “Get the f*ck out of my house” and additional profanities. [259-2, at 250.] At the time, he thought Plaintiff matched the description of the fleeing gunman. [259-3, at 157.] He saw Officer Weber handcuffing Plaintiff's right hand while Plaintiff was “flailing his arms and attempting to break loose from Officer Weber.” Id. at 158. Officer Chavez went to assist Officer Weber, grabbed Plaintiff's left arm, but Plaintiff broke away from him. Id. at 158. After using a technique called an “emergency takedown, ” Plaintiff was placed in handcuffs. Id. at 159.

         Following his arrest inside the house, Plaintiff was escorted outside to a police squad car. Plaintiff testified that three male officers arrested him. [259-2, at 141.] The jury also heard several accounts of what transpired outside of the house. Plaintiff testified at trial that once he was in the squad car, Defendant Officer Allyson Bogdalek looked through the window and said, “Oh, that's not him. That's Daniel Martinez. That's the little brother, but lock him up anyway.” Id. at 148-49. The jury heard that Plaintiff had testified at his deposition that Officer Bogdalek had said only, “‘No, that's not him; that's Danny.' And that was it.” [259-5, at 99.] Matias testified that Officer Bogdalek said, “I don't care. Take him anyways. I don't care. I don't give a f*ck.” [259-2, at 76.] Officer Weber testified that he did not see Officer Bogdalek at the scene, he does not remember her saying this, and she had nothing to with his decision to arrest Plaintiff. [259-4, at 148-49.] At Plaintiff's criminal trial, Officer Weber had testified that Officer Bogdalek was present at the scene. [259-3, at 227.] Officer Chavez did not recall seeing Officer Bogdalek at the scene. Id. at 256. He testified that once he escorted Plaintiff outside of the house, Officer Nunez identified Plaintiff as “Danny, ” not Alberto. [259-2, at 254.] Nevertheless, it was only once Officer Chavez was back at the police station that he learned that Plaintiff was not the fleeing gunman they had been searching for, but was his brother. Id. at 259.

         At the police station, Officers Weber and Chavez signed two criminal complaints against Plaintiff for resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer in violation of 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a)- a total of four misdemeanor offenses. However, Plaintiff's arrest report has a box that says “resisted arrest?” and the report says, “no.” [259-2, at 264-65.] Both obstruction charges state that Plaintiff “knowingly resisted the performance of his lawfull [sic] duties as a peace officer by blocking P.O Chavez['s and P.O. Weber's] access to a room while he was attempting to locate and arrest a person wanted for illegal possession of a firearm.” [259-7; 259-9.] Officer Chavez also testified that he was informed at the station that Plaintiff had a pending lawsuit against Officer Weber and Officer Bogdalek. Id. at 260.

         Officers Chavez and Weber met with the State's Attorney before Plaintiff's criminal trial [259-2, at 261], but only Officer Weber testified at the trial. Officer Bogdalek was not involved in preparing Plaintiff's criminal complaints and did not testify against Plaintiff at his criminal bench trial. [259-2, at 197; 259-3, at 177; 259-4, at 148.] In fact, it was stipulated that Officer Bogdalek failed to appear to testify at a pretrial hearing in response to a subpoena from Plaintiff's attorneys. [259-5, at 21.] Plaintiff was ultimately acquitted, and this civil suit followed. In 2016, Plaintiff went to trial against Officers Weber, Chavez, and Bogdalek, asserting claims for unlawful entry of his home, unlawful search of his home, illegal seizure, false arrest, conspiracy, retaliation, and malicious prosecution. On July 19, 2016, following a six-day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict for Defendants on all counts. Plaintiff now seeks judgment as a matter of law and a new trial.

         II. Legal Standard

         On a motion for judgment as a matter of law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 50, a court must determine whether the evidence presented at trial when viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party is sufficient to support the verdict. Massey v. Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Ill., 226 F.3d 922, 924 (7th Cir. 2000); see also Hall v. Gary Cmty. Sch. Corp., 298 F.3d 672, 675 (7th Cir. 2002). Although a “mere scintilla” of evidence is not sufficient to sustain a verdict, the Court is not to substitute its view of the contested evidence in place of the jury's determination. Filipovich v. K & R Express Sys., Inc., 391 F.3d 859, 863 (7th Cir. 2004). The Court will not set aside a jury verdict if-viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party-there exists within the record any reasonable basis to support the verdict, leaving issues of credibility and weight of evidence to the jury. Kapelanski v. Johnson, 390 F.3d 525, 530 (7th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). The test is whether “no rational juror could have found for the prevailing party.” Turner v. Miller, 301 F.3d 599, 602 (7th Cir. 2002); see also Emmel v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Chi., 95 F.3d 627, 630 (7th Cir. 1996).

         A motion for a new trial is governed by Rule 59(a), which says that “[a] new trial is appropriate if the jury's verdict is against the manifest weight of the evidence or if the trial was in some way unfair to the moving party.” Venson v. Altamirano, 749 F.3d 641, 656 (7th Cir. 2014). When considering whether the jury's verdict goes against the manifest weight of the evidence, the Court analyzes the “general sense of the evidence, assessing the credibility of the witnesses and the comparative strength of the facts put forth at trial.” Mejia v. Cook Cnty., 650 F.3d 631, 633 (7th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted). But “[a] verdict will be set aside as contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence only if ‘no rational jury' could have rendered the verdict.” Moore ex rel. Estate of Grady v. Tuelja, 546 F.3d 423, 427 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting King v. Harrington, 447 F.3d 531, 534 (7th Cir. 2006)). “Jury verdicts deserve particular deference in cases with ‘simple issues but highly disputed facts.'” Id. (quoting Latino v. Kaizer, 58 F.3d 310, 314 (7th Cir. 1995)).

         III. Rule 50 Motion

         Plaintiff argues that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on his unlawful search, unlawful seizure, unlawful arrest, and malicious prosecution claims, which the Court addresses in turn. Plaintiff does not assert that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on his conspiracy or retaliation claims (Claims 5 and 6), and the Court does not address those claims.

         A. Unlawful Entry and Search Claims

         While police generally need a warrant to enter a home, “warrantless searches will be allowed when police have a reasonable belief that exigent circumstances require immediate action and there is no time to secure a warrant.” United States v. Lenoir, 318 F.3d 725, 730 (7th Cir. 2003). “Recognized exigencies include situations in which the occupant of a residence is injured or is in danger of imminent injury; when there is a danger posed to others by the occupant of a dwelling, as when the occupant is armed and might shoot at the police or other persons; when police are in ‘hot pursuit' of a fleeing suspect, or there is a risk that the suspect may escape; and to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence.” Sutterfield v. City of Milwaukee, 751 F.3d 542, 557 (7th Cir. 2014) (internal citations omitted).

The Court instructed the jury as follows:
Exigent circumstances include (1) the ‘hot pursuit' of a fleeing suspect; (2) the need to prevent a suspect's escape; and (3) the need to address the risk of danger to police or to other persons inside or outside the dwelling. Specifically, in this case, there were exigent circumstances for a warrantless entry if: 1. All of the circumstances known to the Defendant you are considering would cause a reasonable person to believe that entry into the residence was necessary to address an exigent circumstance, and 2. There was insufficient time to get a search warrant.

[253, at 25.] Plaintiff contends that there was insufficient evidence to establish any exigencies.[3]Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Defendants, the Court cannot agree.

         “Police officers may enter premises without a warrant when they are in hot pursuit of a fleeing suspect.” Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452, 460 (2011). The “Court conducts an objective review” to “determine if exigent circumstances existed.” United States v. Andrews, 442 F.3d 996, 1000 (7th Cir. 2006). “[A] police officer's subjective belief that exigent circumstances exist is insufficient to justify a warrantless search.” Bogan, 644 F.3d at 571 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         Here, the jury heard testimony that officers were (1) chasing a fleeing suspect who had been armed; (2) the suspect had fled into his home; (3) the police are trained that armed suspects might have another weapon; and (4) the suspect had not been caught. The jury saw photographs of the building at 55th Street and Talman Avenue with its single garage, single fence, common architecture, common backyard, and rear doors that lacked address markers. The jury heard audio recordings referring generally to “55th and Talman” [259-5, at 21] or “2622 West 55th Street in the building” [259-3, at 80] or other descriptions that refer to a single “home” or “residence.” Multiple officers (including Officers Weber and Chavez) testified that they thought the building was a single residence. Indeed, members of the Martinez family lived in both units. There was more than sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that a reasonable officer could have believed that the building at 55th Street and Talman Avenue was a single family home, Plaintiff's home (2624 West 55th Street) was part of the fleeing suspect's home, the exigency created when Alberto fled from police had not yet abated because Alberto had not yet been caught, and it was necessary to search the residence in connection with this exigency. In light of these facts, a reasonable jury could find the existence of exigent circumstances justified Defendants entry into 2624 West 55th Street, and thus a warrantless search was proper.

         Although he seeks judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50, Plaintiff's argument ignores all of these facts and instead offers a selective snapshot of the testimony that purportedly supports his case theory. For example, Plaintiff emphasizes that Officer Weber lacked knowledge of the suspect's location when he entered 2624 West 55th Street. [259, at 31.] Of course, none of the searching officers “knew” Alberto's location. That is why they were still searching for him, including in the location where he was last seen-his home. Plaintiff notes that other officers had searched the yard and set up a two-block perimeter around the address by the time Officer Weber had arrived. [259-5, at 72.] He also points out that Officer Nunez had radioed that Alberto “more than likely jumped over the fence.” Id. None of this testimony negates the fact that the officer's search continued or makes it unreasonable as a matter of law for officers to continue to search the suspect's home for him or evidence of where he might be. Similarly, Plaintiff also argues that Officer Weber “had no affirmative reason to believe Alberto had fled into 2624 W. 55th Street.” [259, at 32.] But the photographs, audio recordings, and testimony were sufficient for the jury to conclude that a reasonable officer would have thought that this was one residence. Thus, Plaintiff's argument that Defendants lacked any reasonable basis to be inside 2624 West 55th Street rather than 2622 West 55th Street falls apart.[4]

         Plaintiff asserts that “[b]ecause Defendants did not know where Alberto was hiding, Defendants cannot claim they entered Danny's home to prevent his escape.” Id. at 33. Similarly, although he acknowledges there is “no doubt that Alberto's flight created a danger, ” Plaintiff calls it “rank speculation” that Alberto might be attempting to obtain another gun and “Defendants could not draw any nexus between entry into the home and the generalized danger presented by flight.” Id. It was undisputed, however, that Alberto had been armed and thus presented more than the “generalized danger” present with “all fleeing suspects.” Id. The jury heard testimony and recordings in which the police dispatcher announced that they were seeking a “person with a gun” and were advised to “use caution.” [259-3, at 34; 259-5, at 53.] The jury also heard testimony that officers are trained to recognize that the presence of one gun can often indicate the presence of multiple guns. [259-3, at 8.] Plaintiff may dispute the factual premise underlying that testimony (which he did not object to), but that does not mean the “record is devoid of evidence” [259, at 33] by which a rational jury could conclude that a reasonable officer would think that this suspect, who had run into his home, might have secured another weapon that could pose a danger to others in the home (such as Vanessa or Zanyda).

         Furthermore, Plaintiff cites no case law holding that it is unreasonable as a matter of law for officers following a fleeing suspect running through his home to enter that home to prevent the suspect's escape or ensure he does not gain another weapon and pose a danger to others. Cf. Warden, Md. Penitentiary v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 298 (1967) (“The police were informed that an armed robbery had taken place, and that the suspect had entered 2111 Cocoa Lane less than five minutes before they reached it. They acted reasonably when they entered the house and began to search for a man of the description they had been given and for weapons which he had used in the robbery or might use against them.”). “Speed here was essential, and only a thorough search of the house for persons and weapons could have insured that [Plaintiff] was the only man present and that the police had control of all weapons which could be used against them or to effect an escape.” Id. at 299.

         Plaintiff also argues that the police should have secured a search warrant. [259, at 33- 34.] He contends that the “undisputed evidence showed the police had time to guard the entrances of 2624 W. 55th Street while a warrant was obtained.” Id. Tellingly, Plaintiff does not provide a cite for this “undisputed evidence.” In any event, Officers Buehler and Weber testified that they did not have time to get a warrant while they pursuing this fleeing suspect. [259-4, at 23 (“There was no time to get a warrant. That takes lots of time.”); id. at 97 (securing a warrant takes “several hours”); 259-3, at 46 (Q: “[W]as there time to get a warrant? Let's ask that.” A: “Not in a hot pursuit, no.”). Plaintiff also argues that because Alberto had run “in and out of 2622 West Street * * * by the time Weber arrived[, ] the exigency had dissipated.” [259, at 31.] Accepting Plaintiff's argument would mean that the officers were required to get a warrant to continue to search 2622 West 55th Street for Alberto simply because some officers had suspected Alberto might have fled his home. Again, Plaintiff offers no case law or reasoning that would support the proposition that the police's “hot pursuit” had “dissipated” here even though Alberto-a potentially armed suspect-had yet to be found. A jury was entitled to find that the police's ongoing search of what a reasonable officer would think was the suspect's property was still reasonable and within the hot pursuit's scope, and thus no warrant was required.

         Finally, Plaintiff contends that “Weber testified inconsistently” on whether he entered 2624 West 55th Street to join 10 to 15 other officers already searching this residence or he entered the home alone, not knowing where Alberto was. [259, at 32; see also 277, at 3.] “[T]he question is not whether the jury believed the right people, but only whether it was presented with a legally sufficient amount of evidence from which it could reasonably derive its verdict.” Massey, 226 F.3d at 924. Plaintiff cannot ignore the evidence it does not like or argue that the jury should not have believed Officer Weber to secure judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50. Plaintiff's request for judgment as a matter of law on the unlawful entry, search, and occupation claims (Claims 1 and 2) are denied.

         B. Unlawful Seizure Claim

         Plaintiff argues that Officer Weber lacked probable cause to seize Plaintiff and was “deliberately indifferent to every objective factor that would have indicated Daniel was the wrong person in the wrong house.” [259, at 35.] Namely, Plaintiff was “wearing the wrong clothing” (a red shirt rather than a gray shirt), was “in the wrong location, ” and “had the wrong name.” Id. Again, Plaintiff's motion overlooks every other objective factor that would provide a reasonable basis to believe that Plaintiff was the fleeing suspect, and thus there was probable cause to detain seize or detain him. Plaintiff is a Hispanic male, had long hair worn in braids or a ponytail, was the brother of the suspect, had the same last name, and was found close to the place the suspect had last been observed. Officers Weber and Chavez testified that Plaintiff matched the description of the suspect. [See 259-3, at 157; 259-4, at 49, 117.] A detainee's appearance need not match a description perfectly for there to be probable cause to detain him. See Pasiewicz v. Lake Cty. Forest Pres. Dist., 270 F.3d 520, 524-25 (7th Cir. 2001) (concluding the officers had probable cause because, “[a]lthough [plaintiff's] appearance did not match exactly the characteristics provided by the two women, he bore a fair resemblance”). Ignoring this evidence does not bolster Plaintiff's entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.

         Even so, the jury heard testimony that explained away each “objective factor” Plaintiff offers. Officer Weber denied hearing the transmission where the suspect's shirt color was reported. [259-3, at 196.] He also testified that “[p]eople take off articles of clothing and throw them off to the side” to “change their appearance, ” and “enough time had passed for someone to change his shirt.” [259-4, at 118.] Such an inference is hardly unreasonable. See United States v. Carpenter, 342 F.3d 812, 816 (7th Cir. 2003) (“[I]t is generally assumed that robbers will change their clothes after the crime to avoid being recognized.”). Plaintiff's “wrong location” argument gains no traction since, as explained above, the officers reasonably thought they were in the suspect's home. Indeed, the fact that Plaintiff appeared inside the building at 55th Street and Talman Avenue actually strengthens the case for probable cause because that is where the police thought the suspect might be. In addition, Officer Weber testified that he only remembered hearing the suspect's last name over the radio. [259-3, at 193; 259-4, at 49.] Officer Buehler testified the same. [259-3, at 8.] Officer Weber also testified that, in his experience as a police officer, “people like to lie about their names, cover-up for one another.” [259-4, at 117.] Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Defendants, the jury could properly conclude that these purportedly “objective factors” did not negate probable cause.

         Plaintiff further argues on reply that “even if the Court credits Weber's selective hearing, Plaintiff's seizure was unlawful because Plaintiff was not in flight” and thus “could not match the description of fleeing suspect.” [227, at 7.] First, the Court must credit Officer Weber's testimony on a Rule 50 motion. Kapelanski, 390 F.3d at 530. Second, Plaintiff offers nothing to support his dubious argument that a fleeing suspect cannot match his description unless he is in the act of “fleeing” at the very moment he is encountered by officers. Probable cause is a “practical, nontechnical conception.” Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 231 (1983) (citation and internal quotations omitted). The police do not lose probable cause to detain a fleeing suspect simply because he is momentarily standing still. Third, there was testimony from which the jury could conclude that Plaintiff ran from his car into the house [259-2, at 71]-that is, he was “in flight”-and then tried to run away from Officer Weber toward the door once in the home (id. at 203-04, 215-17). Thus, there was ample evidence for the jury to find that Officers Weber and Chavez had probable cause to detain or seize Plaintiff, and Plaintiff's motion for judgment as a matter of law on Claim 3 is denied.

         C. False Arrest Claim

         “To prevail on a claim of false arrest, the plaintiff must show there was no probable cause for his arrest.” Jackson v. Parker, 627 F.3d 634, 638 (7th Cir. 2010). “Probable cause exists if an officer reasonably believes, in light of the facts known to [him] at the time, that a suspect had committed or was committing an offense. A probable cause determination relies on the common-sense judgment of the officers based on the totality of the circumstances.” Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). “[A]n arresting officer's state of mind (except for the facts that he knows) is irrelevant to the existence of probable cause.” Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146, 153 (2004). “[A]n arrest is permissible under the Fourth Amendment if the arresting officer had probable cause to make the arrest for any reason.” Maniscalco v. Simon, 712 F.3d 1139, 1144 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Devenpeck, 543 U.S. at 153-54). Moreover, “the probable cause standard permits reasonable mistakes by arresting authorities based on the information then and there available.” United States v. Mounts, 248 F.3d 712, 715 (7th Cir. 2001).

         For the same reasons that support rejection of Plaintiff's unlawful seizure claim, the jury had sufficient evidence to find that Officers Weber and Chavez had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff as the suspect who had fled on foot from police and thrown his firearm. The parties largely repeat their unlawful detention claim arguments regarding whether Plaintiff sufficiently matched the suspect's description to be arrested. The closeness of their physical appearances, location, and name and surrounding circumstances support the jury's finding that the “officer[s] reasonably believe[d], in light of the facts known to [them] at the time, that a suspect had committed or was committing an offense.” Jackson, 627 F.3d at 638. Under Devenpeck, that is sufficient to deny Plaintiff's request for judgment as a matter of law on his false arrest claim. 543 U.S. at 153-54; see also DuFour-Dowell v. Cogger, 969 F.Supp. 1107, 1114 (N.D. Ill. 1997) (“Since defendants had probable cause to arrest [plaintiff] on at least one of the charges, it is unnecessary to determine whether there was probable cause for the other two charges”).

         The bulk of the parties' arguments, however, concern whether Defendants had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff for resisting and obstructing a peace officer. Illinois law provides that “[a] person who knowingly resists or obstructs the performance by one known to the person to be a peace officer * * * of any authorized act within his official capacity commits a Class A misdemeanor.” 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a). “[T]he statute prohibits a person from a committing a physical act of resistance or obstruction-a physical act that impedes, hinders, interrupts, prevents or delays the performance of the officer's duties, such as going limp, forcefully resisting arrest, or physically helping another party to avoid arrest.” People v. McCoy, 378 Ill.App.3d 954, 962 (2008). “‘Resisting' or ‘resistance' means withstanding the force or effect of or the exertion of oneself to counteract or defeat.” People v. Agnew-Downs, 404 Ill.App.3d 218, 226 (2010). “The acts of struggling or wrestling with a police officer are physical acts of resistance that will support a conviction for resisting a peace officer, even if the underlying attempted arrest is unwarranted.” Id. While “[v]erbal resistance or argument alone, even the use of abusive language, is not a violation of the statute, ” id., “[t]he greatest difficulty lies in determining the point at which mere verbal argument or refusal to act becomes an act of physical resistance or obstruction.” Abbott v. Sangamon Cty., Ill., 705 F.3d 706, 722 (7th Cir. 2013) (collecting cases); see also People v. Gordon, 408 Ill.App.3d 1009, 1016-17 (2011) (affirming obstruction conviction where defendant yelled profanities and threats at officers in a “chaotic” scene).

         Plaintiff's motion relies almost exclusively on People v. Young, 100 Ill.App.2d 20 (1968). In Young, three police officers attempted to execute a search warrant of Aubrey Young's apartment, but mistakenly entered Willard Young's apartment. Id. at 21. When the officers showed the search warrant to Willard's wife, Ruth, she “started screaming, struck [the officer] in the chest with her closed fist, * * * then turned around and picked up a ketchup bottle and attempted to strike the officers.” Id. The Appellate Court stated that “[t]here was no question that the defendant resisted the police officers, ” but held that she did not resist an “authorized” act within the meaning of the Section 31-1. Id. at 23. The Court concluded that this provision “does not proscribe resistance to an illegal search” in contrast to an unlawful arrest. Id. at 24 (explaining that “[t]he mere fact that the legislature has struck a different balance in the case of an arrest does not change this” result). Plaintiff contends that, under Young, he had “a right to resist the unlawful search of his home by pulling away” from the officers. [259, at 37.]

         There are two main problems with this argument. First, Officer Weber was not just attempting to search or enter Plaintiff's home. When Plaintiff approached Officer Weber inside Plaintiff's home and Officer Weber determined that Plaintiff matched the description of the fleeing suspect, Officer Weber attempted to arrest and handcuff Plaintiff. [259-4, at 48-49.] Illinois law prohibits a person from using force to resist an arrest “which he knows is being made by a peace officer * * *, even if he believes that the arrest is unlawful and the arrest in fact is unlawful.” 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/7-7; People v. Pandolfi, 2014 IL App (1st) 113783, ¶ 41 (explaining that the resisting statute and Section 7-7 “ordinarily override a claim of defense of dwelling because they specifically pertain to the use of force in an arrest situation”).[5] In contrast with his trial testimony, Plaintiff “concedes” for purposes of this motion that he “knew Officer Weber was a police officer at the moment of their confrontation.” [227, at 9.] Thus, Young does not apply and Plaintiff's “resistance of even an unlawful arrest violates [the resisting statute].” City of Champaign v. Torres, 214 Ill.2d 234, 242 (2005) (discussing People v. Villarreal, 152 Ill.2d 368, 376-77 (1992)); accord Brooks v. City of Aurora, Ill., 653 F.3d ...


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