United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
S. Shah United States District Judge.
officers searched plaintiffs Joyce Thomas and William
Wheeler's apartment and another apartment in the same
building. The officers found guns, ammunition, and drugs. An
occupant of the first-floor apartment-where the guns were
found-said that she was holding the guns for Wheeler.
Wheeler's wife, Thomas, denied knowing about the guns or
the drugs. A few weeks after the search, two patrol officers
saw Wheeler on the street and arrested him. Wheeler was
prosecuted on gun and drug charges, and found not guilty.
and his wife filed suit against the officers involved in the
investigation and arrest (and against the City of Chicago for
indemnification). Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed some
claims. . The remaining claims are for unlawful
search and false arrest-brought under the Fourth Amendment
and 42 U.S.C. § 1983-and a state-law claim for malicious
prosecution. Defendants move for summary judgment.
judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact, and the defendants are entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). I view the
facts-and draw any reasonable inferences from those facts-in
the light most favorable to plaintiffs. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)
requires plaintiffs to cite to specific supporting material
when disagreeing with an assertion by defendants, and facts
will be deemed admitted if not properly controverted with
supporting evidence. Strict compliance with the local rules
is required. See Ammons v. Aramark Unif. Servs.,
Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004).
instances, plaintiffs have not complied with the local rule.
For example, in response to several paragraphs of
defendants' statement of facts, plaintiffs admit that the
witness testified as described by the fact, but deny the
underlying fact without citation to the record. 
¶¶ 40, 43, 44, 58-62. These facts will be deemed
admitted. Plaintiffs also deny a fact without any citation.
 ¶ 75. That fact is deemed admitted.
object to some of defendants' facts on the basis of
hearsay. This case involves search warrants obtained with
information from a “John Doe” informant, and
defendants relate the information provided by John Doe in
their Local Rule 56.1 statement (with citations to the
testimony of officer Hronopoulos). A search warrant can be
based on hearsay, see e.g., United States v.
Hollingsworth, 495 F.3d 795, 805 (7th Cir. 2007), and
John Doe's statements are offered here not for the truth
of the matters asserted but to relate the information upon
which the search warrants were based. Plaintiffs may dispute
the truth of John Doe's statements, but by simply
objecting on the basis of hearsay and not offering any
contrary facts, they do not dispute that John Doe in fact
said the things he said. Plaintiffs' hearsay objections
to defendants' paragraphs 5 through 12 are overruled, and
those facts are deemed admitted, for the limited purpose of
stating the basis for the defendants' probable cause
assessment. See  ¶¶ 5-12.
Plaintiffs' hearsay objection to paragraph 41 is
overruled for similar reasons-that fact is a statement of
Hronopoulos's belief that the guns belonged to Wheeler,
which was based on information related to Hronopoulos by
others.  ¶ 41. Hronopoulos may describe the
information in his possession, and a court can consider that
information when assessing probable cause, without running
afoul of the hearsay prohibition. Woods v. City of
Chicago, 234 F.3d 979, 986-87 (7th Cir. 2000).
Plaintiffs Joyce Thomas's and William Wheeler's
statements to officers are statements of party opponents and
are not hearsay. Fed.R.Evid. 801(d)(2). Plaintiffs'
hearsay objections to paragraphs 45 and 46 are overruled and
the statements are admitted.  ¶¶ 45-46.
those evidentiary disputes resolved, the material, undisputed
facts are as follows. John Doe told Officer Hronopoulos that
William Wheeler stored guns in the first and second-floor
apartments at 4522 West Van Buren, Chicago, Illinois.
Hronopoulos was familiar with John Doe-he had given
information for search warrants twice before and those
searches were positive. Hronopoulos showed a picture of
Wheeler to John Doe, and John Doe identified the person in
the photograph as William Wheeler. Hronopoulos did not know
Wheeler. John Doe was driven to 4522 West Van Buren and he
identified the building as the place where guns were being
stored. Hronopoulos typed up a search warrant, it was
approved by the State's Attorney's Office, and
Hronopoulos brought John Doe to a judge. The judge spoke to
John Doe, and John Doe's statements to the judge were
consistent with his statements to Hronopoulos. The judge
approved two search warrants-one for the first-floor
apartment and one for the second-floor apartment. [95-2],
[95-3]. The warrants authorized the search of Wheeler and the
apartments for a “blue steel semi auto firearm”
as evidence of the unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.
Id. The judge issued the warrants on May 7,
2012, at 6:49 and 6:51 p.m. Id.
executed the warrants at 4522 West Van Buren. Plaintiffs
Joyce Thomas and William Wheeler lived in the second-floor
apartment, and Thomas's sister lived on the first floor.
There is a dispute over whether Sergeant Maher showed Thomas
a copy of the warrant, and so I assume Thomas was not shown
the warrant. But Thomas admits that she was not inside her
home when the search began and was outside the building for
the duration of the search. Three guns were found in a
backpack in the first-floor apartment. Officer Zarbock found
heroin and ammunition on the top shelf of the back porch of
the second-floor apartment. Zarbock processed the evidence
but did not submit any of it for fingerprint analysis.
Thomas's sister told the police that she stored the guns
for William Wheeler and that she feared for her safety-she
was afraid that Wheeler would hurt her.Thomas denied
knowing how the drugs got on the second-floor porch, denied
knowing about the guns on the first floor, and told the
officers to talk to William Wheeler.
was not present during the search, but he called his wife
while she was talking to Sergeant Maher. Wheeler said he
would turn himself in, but he did not show up. The search
lasted about two hours, and nothing was missing or damaged on
the second floor after the search.
little over five weeks later, on June 16, 2012, Officers
Haney and Conner were on patrol. Haney and Conner were not
involved in the search, but Conner had been told by another
officer that Wheeler was a target of a search that recovered
weapons and drugs. Conner knew Wheeler from patrolling
neighborhood, and when Conner saw Wheeler on the street, he
arrested him. Conner and Haney brought Wheeler to the police
station, where he was interviewed by Hronopoulos. During an
interview with Hronopoulos, Wheeler said that he was storing
the guns for someone else. At the time of the search, Wheeler
was a convicted felon.
argue that there was no probable cause for the search because
John Doe's information was hearsay. This is not
sufficient to defeat summary judgment because, as noted
above, probable cause may be based on hearsay from an
anonymous informant. E.g., Illinois v.
Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 244-45 (1983). While the summary
judgment record does not contain the complaint in support of
the warrants or John Doe's basis for saying there were
guns in the apartment, there is no dispute that: he had twice
provided reliable information for search warrants in the
recent past; he identified Wheeler and the apartment
building; he was brought before a judge who could test his
credibility; and the judge approved the search warrants based
on John Doe's information. Plaintiffs do not argue that
any material information was omitted from the search warrant
application or that the judge was misled, and so the warrant
is presumed to be valid. United States v. Childs,
447 F.3d 541, 546 (7th Cir. 2006). The defendants cannot be
liable for executing a valid search warrant, and plaintiffs
have failed to come forward with any evidence undermining the
officers' good faith in relying on the warrant. Since the
evaluation of qualified immunity in obtaining a search
warrant is similar to that used in applying the good-faith
standard, Junkert v. Massey, 610 F.3d 364, 369 (7th
Cir. 2010), and since reliance on the warrant was not
objectively unreasonable, defendants are protected from
liability by qualified immunity.
argue that there is a material factual dispute over the
reasonableness of the search of Thomas's apartment and
argue that the search was warrantless, because she was not
shown the warrant and did not consent to the search. But
plaintiffs do not dispute-with any admissible evidence-that a
judge issued warrants for the two apartments. The Fourth
Amendment does not require the executing officer to serve the
warrant on the owner before commencing the search, see
Groh v. Ramirez, 540 U.S. 551, 562 n.5 (2004), and so
the dispute over whether Thomas saw the warrant is not
material to the warrant's validity. Although
plaintiffs' brief is unclear, they may be claiming that
the execution of the warrant was unreasonable, and therefore
unconstitutional, because Thomas was not shown a copy of it.
There is no constitutional requirement that the warrant be
shown during its execution, see United States v.
Stefonek, 179 F.3d 1030, 1034 (7th Cir. 1999), and
plaintiffs cite no authority clearly establishing that Thomas
had a Fourth Amendment right to receive the warrant from
Maher. At a minimum, the officers are protected by qualified
immunity from a claim concerning the execution of the
warrant. See Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731,
742-43 (2011). The search lasted no more than two hours,
Thomas was outside the apartment for the duration of the
search, and it caused no damage to Thomas's apartment.
The search was conducted reasonably, and defendants are
entitled to summary judgment on claims related to the
execution of the warrant.
Doe's statement that Wheeler stored guns in the
apartments, the recovery of guns, ammunition, and drugs from
the apartments, the sister's statement that she stored
the guns for Wheeler, Thomas's statement disclaiming
knowledge of the contraband and suggesting that officers
speak to Wheeler, Wheeler's failure to turn himself in
after suggesting that he would do so, and the facts that one
of the guns had been reported stolen, [96-3] at 3, and
another gun had a defaced serial number, id., gave
officers reasonably trustworthy information to believe that
Wheeler committed the offenses of illegal possession of
firearms and drugs-in other words, probable cause to arrest
Wheeler. See United States v. Sawyer, 224 F.3d 675,
679 (7th Cir. 2000) (“So long as the totality of the
circumstances, viewed in a common sense manner, reveals a
probability or substantial chance of criminal activity on the
suspect's part, probable cause exists.”). Wheeler
disputes whether the proof of residency recovered during the
search was sufficient to tie him to the apartment, but he
does not dispute that he lived in the second-floor apartment,
and the quantum of evidence necessary to establish probable
cause does not require more than what the officers
indisputably had in hand after they left the search.
Fingerprint analysis was not necessary, because officers are
not required to conduct additional investigation once
probable cause is established. Kelley v. Myler, 149
F.3d 641, 646 (7th Cir. 1998).
arrested Wheeler about a month after the search, but the
arresting officers were not part of the search team.
“[T]he police who actually make the arrest need not
personally know all the facts that constitute probable cause
if they reasonably are acting at the direction of another
officer or police agency. In that case, the arrest is proper
so long as the knowledge of the officer directing the arrest,
or the collective knowledge of the agency he works for, is
sufficient to constitute probable cause.” Tangwall
v. Stuckey, 135 F.3d 510, 517 (7th Cir. 1998) (quotation
and emphasis omitted). Even if the officer who tipped Officer
Conner about Wheeler was not a part of the search team, it is
not disputed that the information Officer Conner received was
true-Wheeler was the target of a search that recovered guns
and drugs. The collective knowledge of Conner's agency is
properly attributed to Conner under these circumstances, and
Conner therefore had probable cause to arrest Wheeler on
sight in the public street. Moreover, since “qualified
immunity protects all but the plainly incompetent or those
who knowingly violate the law, ” Mullenix v.
Luna, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 305, 308 (2015) (quotation
omitted), the arresting officers here would be immune from
liability. They were not plainly incompetent in relying on