United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HONORABLE STACI M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is now before the Court for preliminary review of the
First Amended Complaint (Docs. 7 and 7-1) filed by Plaintiff
Dallas McIntosh, an inmate who is currently incarcerated at
Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”). Plaintiff
brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for an unlawful traffic stop, search and seizure that
occurred in Fairview Heights, Illinois, on September 25,
2012. (Doc. 7, pp. 1-31; Doc. 7-1, pp. 1-38). He names
numerous local and state officials in their individual and
official capacities, for violating his rights under federal
and state law in connection with the traffic stop.
Id. Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment and
monetary damages. (Doc. 7-1, pp. 29-30).
case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the
First Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A,
(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if
feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after
docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner
seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall
identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any
portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on
which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an
objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable
person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209
F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of
entitlement to relief must cross “the line between
possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At
this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se
complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
alleges that he was subject to an unlawful traffic stop in
Fairview Heights, Illinois around 1:40 a.m. on September 25,
2012. (Doc. 7, p. 3). He was on a date at the time.
Id. As he pulled his 2010 Chevrolet Camaro into the
parking lot of the Fairfield Inn located near St. Clair
Avenue and Fairview Drive, Plaintiff observed a local police
officer, Officer Stratman, sitting in his patrol car in the
same lot. Id. Plaintiff exited his vehicle and waved
to the officer as he walked into the hotel to rent a room.
(Doc. 7, p. 4). Officer Stratman acknowledged Plaintiff by
nodding back at him. Id.
entered the Fairfield Inn but returned to his car after
deciding not to rent a room there. (Doc. 7, p. 4). He drove
his vehicle through an adjacent lot and headed west on Ludwig
Drive. Id. Officer Stratman began following
Plaintiff. Id. At times, the officer trailed so
closely behind Plaintiff's vehicle that he almost ran
into the Camaro. Id.
turning west on Highway 50, Plaintiff changed lanes and
Officer Stratman pulled him over. (Doc. 7, p. 4). Plaintiff
recalls the officer collecting his information as well as his
passenger's and returning to the patrol car. Id.
While Officer Stratman sat in his patrol car, presumably
preparing a ticket, Officer Blair arrived in a K-9 unit and
performed a “free air sniff” on Plaintiff's
vehicle. (Doc. 7, p. 5). Plaintiff does not recall anything
that happened afterwards. Id.
later learned that he was “shot multiple times in vital
areas, eventually lapsing into a coma.” (Doc. 7, p. 5).
He was hospitalized in critical condition. Id.
Although he recovered, Plaintiff was unable to recall most of
the events that transpired during the traffic stop, including
basic information like the location of the stop, the reason
given for the stop or the individual who was present in his
vehicle at the time. Id.
was indicted by Brendan Kelly (State's Attorney) and
James Piper (Assistant State's Attorney). (Doc. 7, p. 5).
Detective Mueller testified before the grand jury on October
19, 2012, saying, “Officer Stratman stopped the vehicle
for failing to signal.” (Doc. 7, p. 6). At the time of
making this statement, Detective Mueller allegedly knew that
it was false. (Doc. 7, pp. 25-27). Throughout the criminal
proceedings, Attorneys Kelly and Piper likewise maintained
that Officer Stratman lawfully stopped Plaintiff for
“failure to signal when changing lanes.” (Doc. 7,
pp. 5-6). They also knew this representation was false and
showed the grand jury edited video footage of the traffic
stop that excluded Officer Stratman's stated reason for
stopping Plaintiff. (Doc. 7, pp. 28-29).
September 11, 2014, Attorney Kelly told Plaintiff, his
defense counsel (Michael Mettes) and the Court (Honorable
Robert Haida) that Plaintiff's “failure to signal
when changing lanes” established probable cause for the
stop. (Doc. 7, p. 6). On at least 5 separate occasions,
Attorney Mettes made the same statement to Plaintiff and his
family and he stipulated to this fact at Plaintiff's plea
hearing. (Doc. 7, p. 7). On the basis of these
representations, Plaintiff entered a guilty plea.
to the Illinois Department of Corrections' website
(www.illinois.gov/idoc), Plaintiff was ultimately
sentenced to 40 years of imprisonment for each of 2 counts of
aggravated battery or discharge of a firearm and 7 years of
incarceration for 1 count of manufacturing or delivering
cannabis (>500 grams). See Bova v. U.S. Bank,
N.A., 446 F.Supp.2d 926, 930 n. 2 (S.D. Ill. 2006) (a
court may judicially notice public records available on
government websites) (collecting cases).
sentencing hearing on January 29, 2015, Plaintiff viewed
video footage of the traffic stop for the first time. (Doc.
7, p. 7). The video was taken from Officer Stratman's
patrol car. (Doc. 7, pp. 7-8). It depicted Plaintiff changing
lanes lawfully and using a signal the entire time he did so.
(Doc. 7, p. 8). The video also reveals Officer Stratman's
stated reason for the traffic stop. Id. The officer
told Plaintiff that, after signaling, he failed to travel an
additional 100 feet before changing lanes. Id. In
addition, the video includes Officer Stratman's
conversation with Officer Blair during which Officer Stratman
indicated that he may have seen the same Camaro earlier that
day, that the occupant had an extensive criminal record, and
that any illegal items were probably “hidden by
now.” (Doc. 7, p. 16). Plaintiff maintains that the
video footage directly contradicts the reasons given for the
stop by Attorney Kelly, Attorney Piper, Detective Mueller and
Attorney Mettes. (Doc. 7, pp. 7-8).
basis of the video footage, Plaintiff filed a Motion to
Withdraw Guilty Plea. (Doc. 7, p. 9). He argued that the
traffic stop was illegal because Illinois law only requires a
driver to signal before changing lanes. (Doc. 7, pp. 9-11).
According to Plaintiff, state law imposes no minimum distance
requirement for signaling before a lane change in the area he
was stopped. Id. Plaintiff also argued that he
relied on misrepresentations made by his defense attorney,
including a statement that a written warning was never
“completed” or issued, when agreeing to enter a
plea of guilty. (Doc. 7, p. 12). Plaintiff inquired into the
existence of a citation at the hearing on his Motion to
Withdraw Guilty Plea on November 9, 2015. (Doc. 7, p. 13).
Only then did Attorney Piper admit to the existence of a
written warning. Id. He was ordered to turn over a
copy of it and eventually did so on January 11, 2016. (Doc.
7, p. 14). Plaintiff has since informed the Court that his
Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea was denied on January 17,
2017. (Doc. 8).
now claims that the defendants conspired to violate his
constitutional rights in connection with the traffic stop
that took place in Fairview Heights on September 25, 2012.
(Doc. 7, pp. 30-31). According to the First Amended
Complaint, Officers Stratman and Blair intentionally violated
Plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by
conducting an illegal traffic stop, an unlawful search and an
illegal seizure because of his race. (Doc. 7, pp. 11-18).
Plaintiff maintains that he was stopped for “driving
while Black.” (Doc. 7, p. 15).
to Plaintiff, Officer Stratman, Detective Mueller, Officer
Weisenborn, Officer Doe and Investigator Jennings then worked
together to “cover-up the truth” by issuing false
and misleading police reports and affidavits following the
stop. (Doc. 7, p. 30; Doc. 7-1, p. 23). Their reports were
“intentionally vague” and “deliberately
deceptive, ” aimed only at establishing ...