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Dockery v. City of Joliet

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

March 29, 2017

PATRICK RYAN DOCKERY, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF JOILET, a municipal corporation, JOLIET POLICE DEPARTMENT, a municipal agency, SHERRIE BLACKBURN, a Joliet Police Officer, TERRY HIGGINS, a Joliet Police Officer, and ERIC BERNHARDT, a Joliet Police Officer, OTHER IDENTITY UNKNOWN POLICE OFFICERS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Jeffrey T. Gilbert Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Patrick Ryan Dockery filed a four-count complaint against Defendants City of Joliet, the Joliet Police Department and Joliet Police Officers Sergeant Sherrie Blackburn, Terry Higgins, Eric Bernhardt, and other unidentified police officers alleging use of excessive force (Count I), malicious prosecution (Count II), failure to provide medical care (Count III), and failure to properly train police officers in the use and deployment of a taser (Count IV). This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 67]. For the reasons set forth in this Memorandum Opinion and Order, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is granted as to Counts II, III and IV in their entirety and denied in all other aspects.

         BACKGROUND

         The Court takes the relevant facts from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 statements of fact, including Defendants' statement of facts [ECF No. 69] ("Defs' SOF"); Dockery's response to Defendants' statement of facts [ECF No. 82] ("Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF"); Dockery's statement of additional facts [ECF No. 83] ("Pi's Additional SOF"); and Defendants' response to Dockery's statement of additional facts [ECF No. 93] ("Defs' Resp. to Pi's Additional SOF").

         On July 13, 2011, Defendants Sergeant Blackburn and Officer Higgins, employees of the Joliet Police Department, arrested Dockery at the Evergreen Terrace Apartments, 311 North Bluff Street in Joliet, Illinois for trespass and destruction of property. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶¶ 19-20]. Before taking Dockery to the police station, Sergeant Blackburn and Officer Higgins took him to Silver Cross Hospital to be evaluated, in part because of concerns he was under the influence of PCP. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 21]. It is not disputed that Dockery remained calm and cooperative throughout the time he was transported to the hospital and then initially at the police station when he was booked for trespass and destruction of property. Defs' Resp. to Pi's Additional SOF [ECF No. 93, at ¶ 15].

         While being fingerprinted at the Joliet Police Department, Dockery interacted with Officer Higgins and patted him on the shoulder. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 26]. After being touched by Dockery, Officer Higgins took a step back from him. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶¶ 29-30], Officer Higgins considered the Dockery's pat on his shoulder to be an insult and an aggravated battery, although Officer Higgins admits that the contact was nonviolent and did not cause him any harm. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶¶ 26-27].

         The parties dispute what happened next and assert that the videotape evidence of the incident supports their conflicting versions of the events. After Dockery made contact with Officer Higgins on the shoulder, Officer Higgins stepped back and then reached for Dockery's arm in order to handcuff him. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶¶ 29-30], At the same time, Sergeant Blackburn drew her taser because she observed Dockery's behavior change and believed that Dockery had made threatening movements toward Officer Higgins. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶¶ 32-35]. Dockery disputes that he made any threatening movements toward Officer Higgins after patting him on the shoulder and prior to being tased. Defs' Resp. to Pi's Additional SOF [ECF No. 93, at ¶ 21].

         Sergeant Blackburn and Officer Higgins took Dockery's arms behind his back and attempted to handcuff him with a single pair of handcuffs. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 46]; but see Defs' Resp. to Pi's Additional SOF [ECF No. 93, at ¶ 20], Dockery states that being restrained by a single pair of handcuffs caused him pain and as a result he fell to the ground. Defs' Resp. to Pi's Additional SOF [ECF No. 93, at ¶ 20]. Earlier in the day when Dockery first was arrested, it is not disputed that Sergeant Blackburn and Officer Higgins linked two pairs of handcuffs together in order to handcuff Dockery. Defs' Reply to Pis' Additional Facts [ECF No. 93, at ¶¶ 9-10].

         After Dockery fell to the ground, Defendants assert that Dockery kicked at Officer Higgins. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 52], Dockery disputes that he was kicking anyone. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 52]. Dockery then attempted to stand up, and Sergeant Blackburn deployed her taser in probe mode for the first time. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 52]. As a result of being tased, Dockery fell to the ground again. Pi's Resp. to Defs'SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 53].

         After being tased for the first time, Dockery sat up and pulled one of the probes out of his body. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 56]. After that, the officers commanded Dockery "get on the ground." Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 58]; Defs' Resp. to Pi's Additional SOF [ECF No. 93, at ¶ 22]. Dockery, however, already was on the ground, and it is disputed whether Dockery was trying to stand up again. Defs' Resp. to Pi's Additional SOF [ECF No. 93, at ¶ 23]. It is undisputed that Dockery never made any attempt to flee the Adult Booking Room at Joliet police station. Defs' Resp. to Pi's Additional SOF [ECF No. 93, at ¶ 29].

         Sergeant Blackburn perceived Dockery still was a threat, and she attempted to tase Dockery again. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 59], Sergeant Blackburn also "drive stunned" Dockery additional times. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 62]. It disputed how many times Sergeant Blackburn deployed her taser and/or attempted to "drive stun" Dockery. Dockery appears to be rolling around on the ground after being tased and "drive stunned." Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶¶ 63-65]. Defendants assert Dockery was kicking at the officers, which Dockery disputes. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 63], Dockery states he was rolling around because he had been tased multiple times. Pi's Resp. to Defs' SOF [ECF No. 82, at ¶ 63]. Eventually, additional officers entered the booking room and helped to put Dockery into handcuffs. Defs' Resp. to Pi's Additional SOF [ECF No. 93, at ¶¶ 27-28].

         Dockery alleges that he suffered injuries as a result of these events and that he requested medical attention, but Defendants did not offer medical care to him. Defs' Resp. to Pi's Additional SOF [ECF No. 93, at ¶ 35]. Defendants do not dispute that Dockery did not receive any medical treatment from any member of the Joliet Police Department. Defs' Resp. to Pi's Additional SOF [ECF No. 93, at 36].

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323(1986).

         In determining whether there is a genuine issue of fact, a district court "must construe the facts and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Foley v. City of Lafayette, 359 F.3d 925, 928 (7th Cir. 2004). And the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. The nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In other words, the "mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [nonmovant's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [nonmovant]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, a court does not "evaluate the weight of the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses or determine the ultimate truth of the matter" but rather "determine whether there exists a genuine issue of triable fact." Chelios v. Heavener, 520 F.3d 678, 685 (7th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). The court may not make credibility determinations, weigh the evidence, or decide which inferences to draw from the facts; these are jobs for a factfinder. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Betaco, Inc. v. Cessna Aircraft Co., 32 F.3d 1126, 1138 (7th Cir. 1994); Sarsha v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 3 F.3d 1035, 1041 (7th Cir. 1993). Rather, "[t]he court has one task and one task only: to decide, based on the evidence of record, whether there is any material dispute of fact that requires a trial." Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994). The court, therefore, must look at the evidence as a jury might, construing the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and avoiding a temptation to decide which party's version of the facts is more likely true. Shepherd v. Slater Steels Corp., 168 F.3d 998, 1009 (7th Cir. 1999).

         ANALYSIS

         I. Defendants Are Not Entitled To Summary Judgment As A Matter Of Law On Dockery's Excessive Force Claim

         In Count I of his complaint, Dockery asserts that Defendants used excessive force when the Defendant police officers attempted to place him in handcuffs at the Joliet police station and when Sergeant Blackburn used a taser to subdue him multiple times ...


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