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McKenzie v. Teague

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

September 1, 2017

DARNELL MCKENZIE R-12505, Plaintiff,
OFFICER TEAGUE, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Darnell McKenzie, an Illinois prisoner, brings this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the Defendant police officers violated his constitutional rights related to a March 2015 arrest that led to state criminal charges of which Plaintiff was acquitted in a jury trial. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that they had probable cause for Plaintiffs arrest or are entitled to qualified immunity as to the arrest and that the facts do not support a federal due process claim. Plaintiff responded to Defendants' motion. In light of the recent opinion in Manuel v. City of Joliet, III, 137 S.Ct. 911 (2017), issued while Defendants' motion was pending, the Court requested that Defendants supplement their summary judgment materials and that McKenzie respond. The parties have complied. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.


         Local Rule 56.1 sets out a procedure for presenting facts pertinent to a party's request for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Specifically, Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to submit "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to judgment as a matter of law." Petty v. City of Chi, ISA F.3d 416, 420 (7th Cir. 2014). Each paragraph of the movant's statement of facts must include "specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon to support the facts set forth in that paragraph." L.R. 56.1(a). The opposing party must file a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, "including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." L.R. 56.1 (b)(3)(B). "All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party." L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C). The nonmoving party may also present a separate statement of additional facts "consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C). "[I]f additional material facts are submitted by the opposing party . . ., the moving party may submit a concise reply in the form prescribed in that section for a response." L.R. 56.1(a).

         Because McKenzie is proceeding pro se, Defendants served him with a "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment" as required by Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.2. (Dkt. 75.) The notice explained how to respond to Defendants' summary judgment motion and Rule 56.1 Statement and cautioned McKenzie that the Court would deem Defendants' factual contentions admitted if he failed to follow the procedures delineated in Local Rule 56.1. (Id. at 2.)

         In response to Defendants' submissions, McKenzie filed a "motion in answer to summary judgment" (Dkt. 77), a "motion in answer to memorandum of law support of their motion for summary judgment" (Dkt. 78), and a "Local Rule 56.1 of Uncontested Material Facts" (Dkt. 79).

         Plaintiffs first "motion in answer" attaches several exhibits, including an affidavit, "under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States, " in which he asserts that "every thing[sic] [he] said in the motion in Answer to Summary Judgement is true about Chicago police officers." (Dkt. 77, pg. 33.) On February 3, 2017, Defendants responded to each of McKenzie's submissions, and filed a reply in support of their motion. (Dkt. 82, 83, 84.)[1]

         Neither party, strictly speaking, complied with Local Rule 56. McKenzie did not directly respond to Defendants' Local Rule 56.1 statement "with a concise response" to each numbered paragraph in Defendants' statement. See L.R. 56.1(b). Nor did he generally include citations to the evidence when listing his own facts. Defendants responded to Plaintiffs statement of uncontested material facts, but the response was not "concise" and was not completely "in the form prescribed [in L.R. 56.1(b)] for a response." L.R. 56.1(a). Defendants' response is overly argumentative and did not respond to all facts included within McKenzie's statement. For example, in his SOF ¶ 6, Plaintiff in part stated that the officers' duty belts and vests were obscured by other clothing; Defendants did not address that portion of the statement. (Dkt. 84, pgs. 5-6.) Similarly, Defendants repeatedly assert that McKenzie's arrest was supported by probable cause, even when this does not directly correspond to McKenzie's statements. (See, e.g., PL SOF ¶ 14 ("Plaintiff was found not guilty at trial for P.S.M.V. despite the officers alleged perjury."), and Def. Resp. to ¶ 14 (including "Probable cause existed for Plaintiffs March 26, 2015 arrest.").

         Notwithstanding the issues with the parties' compliance with Local Rule 56.1, the Court, consistent with the standards governing summary judgment and McKenzie's pro se status, has liberally construed McKenzie's submissions. Given McKenzie's failure to respond to Defendants' L.R. 56.1 statement, the Court accepts Defendants' "uncontroverted version of the facts to the extent that it is supported by evidence in the record." Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 661 F.3d 877, 880 (7th Cir. 2012). However, the Court will not accept Defendants' version of the facts, to the extent that they are unsupported by the cited evidence or to the extent that McKenzie has identified contrary evidence in the record or fact disputes to which he could properly testify. The Court construes the resulting record in the light most favorable to McKenzie. Sistrunk v. Khan, 931 F.Supp.2d 849, 854 (N.D. 111. 2013); Fed.R.Evid. 602. With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts.

         KEY FACTS

         McKenzie is an Illinois prisoner currently housed at Dixon Correctional Center. (Dkt. 73, Def. Stmt. ¶ 5.) Defendants Omar Stover and Shikema Teague are police officers for the Chicago Police Department, who, on the morning of March 26, 2015, were assigned to the 15th District. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 7, 12.) Officers Stover and Teague and another officer, Nathaniel Warner, who was not named as a Defendant in this case, [2] were partnered and patrolling in a gray unmarked Chicago police vehicle driven by Officer Stover. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 13.) The vehicle had municipal license plates ("M-plates") and had siren and emergency light capabilities, through lights located in the headlights, windshield, and rear and side windows. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 22.) The officers wore civilian clothes and black, bulletproof vests embroidered with their last names and district number and "police" written in bold white lettering on the back, as well as large silver stars containing their badge numbers (Id. ¶¶ 10, 11), but the parties appear to dispute whether the vests may have been visible or partially obscured by sweaters or other outer clothing. (See PI. M. in Answer to Summary Judgment, Dkt. 77, pg. 3; Dkt. 79, PI. Stmt., ¶ 6; Dkt. 73-4, PI. Dep., pg. 62:9-10 ("[A]t the time I did not see no vests."); pg. 61:24-62:1 ("Up under - he had - he had a vest on."))

         The police officers pulled into a Marathon gas station at 5107 West Madison Street, at the intersection of Madison Street and Leamington Avenue. (Dkt. 73 ¶ 13.) McKenzie was already at the gas station attempting to inflate the flat rear tire of a car with the station's air pump. (Id. ¶¶ 12, 14.) Defendants saw McKenzie turn toward their vehicle (although McKenzie disputes seeing them), immediately give up his efforts to inflate the completely flat tire, and get in the driver's seat of his car. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 16.) The officers, finding McKenzie's behavior unusual, ran the license plate of the car McKenzie drove through LEADS using the officers' in-car computer. (Id. ¶ 18.) Two successive searches revealed that the car had been reported stolen. (Id. ¶¶ 18, 19.)

         A plodding car chase ensued, as McKenzie drove his hobbled car down Leamington Avenue toward Monroe Street, while the officers pursued in their vehicle. (Id. ¶ 19.) The officers observed McKenzie drive through the stop sign at Monroe before he turned left onto Monroe Street and then pulled to the side of the road and stopped the car.[3] (Id. ¶¶ 20, 21.) The officers stopped their vehicle just behind the car McKenzie drove, and exited with, according to McKenzie, guns drawn. (Id. ¶¶ 26, 27; Dkt. 77, pg. 3.) As they approached, McKenzie again began to drive the disabled car east on Monroe, and the officers returned to their vehicle and followed. (Def. Stmt. ¶¶ 30-32.) At the end of that block, McKenzie pulled to the side of the road and then leapt out of the car and ran northbound, toward Madison Street. (Id. ¶ 33.) Officer Warner pursued McKenzie on foot, while Officer Stover drove the squad car to Madison to block McKenzie's route. (Id. ¶¶ 34, 35.) Officer Teague remained with the reportedly-stolen car. (Id. ¶ 36.) McKenzie ran toward the officers' vehicle (and, apparently, a marked police vehicle that had approached from another direction) and, when ordered to do so, got onto the ground and was handcuffed and arrested. (Id. ¶¶ 37-40; Dkt. 77, at 3.)

         McKenzie insists that he next immediately protested that he had not recognized his pursuers as police officers and, once informed that the car he was driving was stolen, insisted that he was innocent of any wrongdoing. (Dkt. 78, pgs. 3-4.) McKenzie insists that the officers falsely reported what he said, stating in both the ensuing police report and testimony at McKenzie's probable cause hearing that McKenzie had confessed to fleeing because he knew the car was stolen and that he knew his driver's license had been revoked. (Id. at 4-5.) McKenzie was charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle, see 625 ILCS 5/4-103(a)(1), and was issued five traffic citations, including driving on a suspended or revoked license. (Def. Stmt. ¶¶ 45-46.)

         At the ensuing criminal trial, Officers Stover and Weaver testified. (Id. ¶ 49 (Stover); Dkt. 84-1 (Warner).) McKenzie also testified. He explained that, on March 26, 2015, he had been working for his uncle's car repair business, and a client had dropped off the car, with its keys, for repair of a flat rear tire. (Dkt. 73-9, pgs. 4:23-5:11; 5:20-8:22.)[4] McKenzie had taken it to the gas station to attempt to repair the tire with two "fix-a-flat" cans, but gave up when the tire would not hold air after those attempts. (Id. at 8:23-9:20.) Although he saw a vehicle tailing him after he left the station, he did not realize that it was a police vehicle; he ran when he saw three individuals he did not know, with weapons drawn, approach him in the disabled car. (Id. at 11:14-12:20; 14:2-17; see also Dkt. 79, ΒΆ 8.) The car McKenzie drove had been reported stolen by its owner less than two weeks earlier, on March 15, 2015, and the owner had not ...

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