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West v. Marion County Sheriff's Department

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

April 19, 2017

WALLY L. WEST, No. N-28098, Plaintiff,


          J. PHIL GILBERT United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Wally L. West, an inmate at Shawnee Correctional Center (“Shawnee”), brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On July 19, 2015, Defendants executed a search warrant on Plaintiff's property. Plaintiff contends Defendants' actions violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and seeks monetary damages. Plaintiff's current incarceration at Shawnee appears to be on charges that are unrelated to the search warrant at issue in the instant case. In connection with these claims, Plaintiff sues the Marion County Sheriff's Department, Rich Stevenson (Sheriff, Marion County Sheriff's Department), Ryan Castleman (Detective, Marion County Sheriff's Department), Kevin Cripps (Detective, Marion County Sheriff's Department), Craig Vieira (Police Officer, Marion County Sheriff's Department), Clayton Cain (Sargent, Police Officer, Marion County Sheriff's Department), Tyler Parker (Police Officer, Marion County Sheriff's Department), and John Doe (Police Officer). All Defendants are sued in their individual and official capacities.

         The Complaint is now before the Court for a preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(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 such relief.

         An 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. 2009).

         Plaintiff's Complaint does not survive review under this standard.

         The Complaint

         On July 19, 2015, Cripps sought and obtained a search warrant for Plaintiff's property. (Doc. 1, p. 12). The warrant allowed police to search “the property, residence, vehicles, outbuildings and persons located at 300 W. Case Street, Kinmundy, Il. 62854.” (Doc. 1, p. 15). Plaintiff was the owner of the subject property. (Doc. 1, p. 6). However, both Plaintiff and an individual by the name of Tyler West occupied the property. (Doc. 1, p. 20).

         As noted above, Cripps is the officer that applied for the search warrant. (Doc. 1, pp. 12-14). Cripps' warrant application was premised on information obtained during the investigation and subsequent arrest of April Bardle. Id. Specifically, Cripps' warrant application included the information summarized in the following paragraph.

         On the morning of July 19, 2015, April Bardle's parents contacted the Madison County Sheriff's Department to report their daughter had stolen cash from Mrs. Bardle's purse. (Doc. 1, p. 12). Cripps responded to the report and subsequently located April Bardle at Plaintiff's residence. (Doc. 1, p. 12). April Bardle was taken into custody, transported to the Marion County Jail, and charged with theft. (Doc. 1, p. 13). While at the Marion County Jail, Bardle was searched. (Doc. 1, p. 13). The search revealed two items in April Bardle's possession, both of which tested positive for cocaine. (Doc. 1, p. 13). April Bardle subsequently revealed that on two occasions on July 18, 2015 and on one occasion on July 19, 2015 she purchased the drug known as SALT at Plaintiff's residence. (Doc. 1, pp. 13-14). It appears that both Plaintiff and Tyler West were present on all three occasions. (Doc. 1, pp. 13-14). However, Tyler West is identified as the individual that accepted Plaintiff's money in exchange for the SALT. (Doc. 1, pp. 13-14).

         Although not entirely clear, Plaintiff seems to allege the search warrant was unlawful because: (1) April Bardle is a drug user and had used drugs shortly before her arrest; (2) April Bardle admitted to performing oral sex for money the night before her arrest; (3) April Bardle never observed Plaintiff doing anything illegal or in possession of anything illegal; (4) April Bardle never observed anything illegal in plain view while at Plaintiffs residence; (5) although materials found in April Bardle's possession tested positive for cocaine, April Bardle reported purchasing and using SALT at Plaintiffs residence; (6) April Bardle did not appear before the judge issuing the warrant or sign an affidavit; and (7) the search warrant did not include a description for “anything to be searched.” (Doc. 1, pp. 5-6).

         At approximately 11:00 PM the search warrant was executed by the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System Tactical Response Team (“ILEAS”). (Doc. 1, p. 6). According to an exhibit attached to the Complaint, ILEAS was utilized as a result of “intelligence gathered and information that [Plaintiff] is known to carry a firearm.” (Doc. 1, p. 20). ILEAS used battering rams and flash grenades to breach Plaintiffs residence. (Doc. 1, p. 6). After securing the scene, ILEAS turned the scene over to Castleman, Cripps, Cain, Vieira, Parker, and Doe. (Doc. 1, p. 6). These individuals “conducted a search of the residence, outbuildings, property, and vehicles as set forth in the search warrant.” (Doc. 1, p. 6). According to the Complaint, no contraband was found. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Police reports attached to the Complaint indicate that the following items were seized:

● Digital Scale and a green drug pipe
● Mucus & Sinus relief bottle with miscellaneous pills including 8 Trazadone pills
● Beretta Model U22 with loaded magazines
● 2 multi-colored drug pipes
● Numerous syringes and a sealed bottle of 17-AlphaHydroxyProgesterone
● Glass Container with a small amount of green leafy substance (field tested positive for the presence of Marijuana and weighed less than 1.0 gram).

(Doc. 1, p. 21).

         When the warrant was executed, Plaintiff was working on his car which was parked in the back of his residence on public property. (Doc. 1, p. 6). Plaintiff and Anthony Finckbone, an individual located on the property, were taken into custody, removed from the scene, and detained at the Marion County Sheriffs Department. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 20). The Complaint asserts that Plaintiff was taken into custody at gunpoint, but provides no further details with regard to who took Plaintiff into custody or with regard to Plaintiffs subsequent transport to the Marion County Sheriffs Department. No charges were filed in relation to execution of the search warrant and the case was closed. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         Plaintiff contends that ILEAS officers damaged his residence during execution of the search warrant. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 24-36). The damage to Plaintiffs residence was approximately $5, 000. (Doc. 1, pp. 24-36). Plaintiff contends the Marion County Sheriff s Department is liable for the damage because ILEAS executed the search warrant on its behalf. (Doc. 1, pp. 6, 24). Plaintiff has sought compensation from the Marion County Sheriffs Department; however, his demand has been ignored. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         Plaintiff contends Defendants violated his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments when executing the search warrant on July 19, 2015 and in detaining Plaintiff during the investigation. Additionally, Plaintiff brings state law claims for unlawful restraint, criminal trespass, criminal damage, and official misconduct. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         Dismissal of Certain Parties and Official Capacity Claims Rich Stevenson in his Individual Capacity (Sheriff, ...

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