November 29, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 13-cv-2397 -
Robert M. Dow, Jr., Judge.
Bauer, Flaum, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
Christopher Colbert and Jai Crutcher were arrested after a
search of their apartment, in which police officers and
parole agents found an unregistered firearm and ammunition.
After Colbert's and Crutcher's acquittals and
dismissal of the gun-possession charges,
plaintiffs-appellants brought malicious-prosecution, Fourth
Amendment, and false-arrest claims against the officers and
the City of Chicago. The district court granted summary
judgment in defendants-appellees' favor. We affirm.
2002 to 2010, Jai Crutcher was incarcerated for robbery,
unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, aggravated discharge of
a firearm at an occupied vehicle, and mob action. In December
2010, Crutcher was released; however, he returned to prison
in January 2011 for domestic battery. In March 2011, he was
discharged on mandatory supervised release. On March 17,
2011, Crutcher and his girlfriend moved in with Colbert,
Crutcher's brother by adoption.
March 2011, Chicago Police Department Officer Russell
Willingham and his partner received a tip from an informant
who reported that he had been at Crutcher's residence on
multiple occasions and had observed Crutcher in possession of
a forty-caliber semiautomatic handgun and a twelve-gauge
shotgun. Officer Willingham ran a name check on Crutcher and
saw that he was on mandatory supervised release. Officer
Willingham then contacted the Illinois Department of
Corrections ("IDOC") and spoke with parole agent
Jack Tweedle. Willingham relayed the informant's report
to Tweedle, and both decided to perform a compliance check at
AM on March 31, 2011, at least ten law-enforcement
officials-including defendants-appellees Officer Willingham
and parole agents Tweedle, Darryl Johnson, and Louis Hopkins,
as well as several others not named in the lawsuit-reported
to Crutcher's residence. Crutcher woke up to the
officers' knock at the door, noticed the officers out
front, and called Colbert, who was at work. Crutcher took
several minutes to let the officers in. Once Crutcher opened
the door, the officers informed him that they were there to
conduct a parole check. Crutcher consented to the search as
required under the terms of his supervised release.
beginning the search, the officers handcuffed Crutcher. Soon
afterward, Colbert returned home from work. The officers
informed Colbert that they were conducting a compliance check
and handcuffed Colbert, as well. Neither Crutcher nor Colbert
was permitted to observe the search, which encompassed the
basement, kitchen, and various bedrooms.
complaint, Colbert alleged that, during their search, the
officers caused damage throughout his house. Specifically, he
claimed the officers "pulled out insulation, put holes
in the walls, ripped the couch open to search its contents,
and tracked dog feces throughout the house." He further
alleged that the officers ruined part of the kitchen
countertop and broke hinges off of certain shelves. Colbert
did not provide any evidence of the residence's
pre-search condition. He was also unable to identify any of
the officers who allegedly damaged his property.
searching Colbert's house, the officers encountered a
locked bedroom door on the main floor. Colbert informed the
officers that it was his bedroom. According to Colbert, one
of the IDOC agents then wrestled him to the ground and took
the keys to the room. The officers found a twelve-gauge
shotgun and approximately one hundred rounds of ammunition in
the bedroom closet. The shotgun was not registered with the
City of Chicago. The officers also discovered a case for a
forty-caliber semiautomatic handgun, but they did not recover
the gun itself. Colbert admitted that he owned both firearms.
The officers arrested both Crutcher and Colbert.
Officer Willingham submitted a criminal complaint against
Crutcher, alleging that Crutcher had possessed a firearm as a
felon, in violation of 720 Ill.Comp.Stat. 5/24-1.1(a), and
had violated his parole, see 730 Ill.Comp.Stat.
5/3-3-9. Both charges required Crutcher to have known about
the firearms in the house. Officer Willingham's arrest
report stated, in relevant part:
After being Mirandized and waiving said rights, [Crutcher]
stated that he had full knowledge of the firearm being in the
residence but stated that it was OK because it was his
brother's, and he's legit .... [A]s to the fact that
a .40 cal semiauto handgun previously had been in the
residence ... [Colbert] stated [it] was his but [that it was]
currently at a friend's house in Matteson.
to Crutcher, however, Officer Willingham's statement was
false: Crutcher had informed Officer Willingham that the
shotgun was not his and that he did not know that Colbert had
a firearm in the house. On April 19, 2011, the Cook County
trial court dismissed the criminal complaint on a finding of
no probable cause.
2011, an Illinois grand jury indicted Crutcher on one count
of being an armed habitual criminal and two counts of
unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. On February 28,
2012, a jury found Crutcher not guilty.
Colbert, Officer Willingham submitted in an affidavit that
the officers arrested him for (1) failing to register his
firearm pursuant to § 8-20-140 of Chicago's
Municipal Code, and (2) using a shotgun able to hold over
three rounds, in violation of 520 Ill.Comp.Stat.
5/2.33(m). Colbert's official charge, however,
mistakenly identified § 8-20-040 as the ordinance
underlying the charges. According to Officer Willingham, the
discrepancy was due to a scrivener's error. Colbert was
released from custody on the same day of his arrest, and the
charges against him were later dismissed.
subsequently filed this lawsuit. Crutcher alleged that
Officer Willingham and the City of Chicago had both subjected
him to malicious prosecution under Illinois law. Colbert
alleged that (1) the named officers and agents had violated
his Fourth Amendment rights, and (2) the City of Chicago had
falsely arrested him. The district court granted
defendants-appellees' motion for a more definite
statement regarding Colbert's and Crutcher's claims
against the City. Specifically, the district court ordered
Colbert and Crutcher to identify any allegedly
unconstitutional ordinance that formed the basis of their
claims. Appellants filed an amended complaint, identifying
§ 8-20-040 (the ordinance mistakenly listed in the
official charge) as the allegedly unconstitutional ordinance
at issue. The City then moved to dismiss the claims against
it, arguing that Officer Willingham had arrested Colbert for
violating § 8-20-140, not § 8-20-040. The district
court denied the City's motion. Appellants then filed a
second amended complaint that continued to identify §
8-20-040 as the only allegedly unconstitutional ordinance at
City of Chicago and Officer Willingham moved for summary
judgment, as did IDOC agents Tweedle, Johnson, and Hopkins.
Colbert and Crutcher moved for partial summary judgment on
their false-arrest claim against the City. They also, for the
first time, asserted that the registration requirements under
§ 8-20-140-the ordinance actually underlying
Colbert's arrest-were unconstitutional. In response,
Officer Willingham submitted an affidavit stating that
Colbert had been arrested for violating § 8-20-140, but
Officer Willingham had erroneously marked § 8-20-040 as
the cause for arrest. The district court accepted this
explanation, granted summary judgment for
defendants-appellees on all claims, denied Colbert's and
Crutcher's motion for partial summary judgment, and
dismissed the case. This appeal followed.
review the district judge's grant of summary judgment de
novo, viewing all facts in favor of the nonmoving party.
Georgia-Pac. Consumer Prods. LP v. Kimberly-Clark
Corp., 647 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2011).
brought state-law claims for malicious prosecution against
the City and Officer Willingham under supplemental
jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1367. "To establish a claim for malicious
prosecution under Illinois law, plaintiffs must establish
five elements: (1) commencement or continuation of an
original proceeding [by the defendant]; (2)termination of the
proceeding in favor of the plaintiff; (3) the absence of
probable cause; (4) malice; and (5) damages." Cairel
v. Alderden, 821 F.3d 823, 834 (7th Cir. 2016) (citing
Sang Ken Kim v. City of Chi, 858 N.E.2d 569, 574
(111. App. 2006)). "The absence of any one of these
elements bars a plaintiff from pursuing the claim."
Johnson v. Saville, 575 F.3d 656, 659 (7th Cir.
2009) (quoting Swick v. Liautaud, 662 N.E.2d 1238,
1242 (111. 1996)).
fact that Crutcher was indicted by a grand jury defeats his
claim. Noting that "a malicious prosecution action
against police officers" can often be "anomalous,
" we have explained,
[T]he State's Attorney, not the police, prosecutes a
criminal action. It is conceivable that a wrongful arrest
could be the first step towards a malicious prosecution.
However, the chain of causation is broken by an
indictment, absent an allegation of pressure or
influence exerted by the police officers, or knowing
misstatements by the officers to the prosecutor.
Reed v. City of Chi., 77 F.3d 1049, 1053 (7th Cir.
1996) (emphasis added). Thus, a plaintiff may not maintain a
malicious-prosecution claim against an arresting officer
without first showing "some postarrest action which
influenced the prosecutor's decision to indict."
Snodderly v. R.U.F.F. Drug Enforcement Task Force,
239 F.3d 892, 902 (7th Cir. 2001). While Officer
Willing-ham's allegedly false statement constitutes a
post-arrest action, there is no evidence that it influenced
the prosecutor's decision to indict, or that the
prosecutor relied on it to obtain the indictment. It is
likely the prosecutor knew that a judge had already dismissed
Officer Willingham's complaint, which was based in part
on this arrest report, for lack of probable cause. In fact,
Officer Willingham did not testify before the grand
jury-Officer Berry, one of the other nine searching officers,
did. And there is no evidence connecting Officer
Willingham's allegedly false report to Officer
Berry's grand-jury testimony. Without more, there is no
basis to infer that Officer Willingham's allegedly false
report precluded the grand-jury indictment from breaking the
chain of causation between Crutcher's arrest and
prosecution. Consequently, Crutcher's
malicious-prosecution claim against Officer Willingham fails.
relies on our decisions in Brooks v. City of
Chicago, 564 F.3d 830, 833 (7th Cir. 2009), and
McCann v. Mangialardi, 337 F.3d 782, 786 (7th Cir.
2003), to argue that an indictment does not break the chain
of causation when the defendant officer includes false
statements in his or her report. Neither of these cases,
however, addressed the effect that an intervening indictment
can have on a malicious-prosecution claim against a police
officer. Rather, they concluded that the appellants could not
succeed on federal due-process claims based on allegedly
false police statements that were better suited for state-law
malicious prosecution claims.
malicious-prosecution claim against the City fails for the
same reason and because it does not meet certain standards
governing actions against municipalities. To succeed on a
direct claim against a municipality, Crutcher must identify
"a policy or custom of the municipality that violates
the plaintiff's constitutional rights." Schor v.
City of Chi., 576 F.3d 775, 779 (7th Cir. 2009). To do
so, he "must begin by showing an underlying
constitutional violation." Id. Crutcher does
not make such a showing. He argues that §§ 8-20-040
and 8-20-140 of Chicago's Municipal Code are
unconstitutional. But § 8-20-040 is unrelated to this
case: It only appears in the criminal complaint as the result
of a scrivener's error and was not the basis for
Crutcher's arrest or prosecution. Furthermore, Crutcher
improperly introduced his argument regarding § 8-20-140
in his response to summary judgment. Abuelyaman v. III.
State Univ., 667 F.3d 800, 814 ("It is well settled
that a plaintiff may not advance a new argument in response
to a summary judgment motion.")
brought § 1983 claims against the named officers and
agents for violating his Fourth Amendment rights during the
search. "To survive summary judgment of a claim brought
under § 1983, this court focuses on '(1) whether the
conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under
color of state law; and (2) whether this conduct deprived a
person of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States.'"
Armato v. Grounds,766 F.3d 713, 719-20 (7th Cir.
2014) (quoting Parratt v. Taylor,451 U.S. 527, 535
(1981)). Defendants-appellants clearly acted under state law,
as they are employed by the Chicago Police Departmerit and
Illinois Department of Corrections and were enforcing
state-law conditions of supervised ...