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Lapre v. City of Chicago

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

September 12, 2017

VERTULIE LAPRE, Administrator of the Estate of Okoi Ofem, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Virginia M. Kendall United States District Court Judge.

         Plaintiff Vertulie Lapre, Estate Administrator, through her counsel brought this suit against Defendant City of Chicago and Defendant Officers pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 after her son Okoi Ofem committed suicide while detained after his arrest at the City's District 4 Lockup. The Parties stipulated and dismissed with prejudice all claims against the individual officers. (Dkt. 115.) The City now moves for summary judgment on the remaining claim: Count III of the First Amended Complaint alleging a Monell claim against the City. For the following reasons, the Court grants the City's Motion for Summary Judgment against Lapre. (Dkt. 118.)

         BACKGROUND

         The parties do not dispute the following facts unless otherwise noted.

         I. Ofem's Arrest and Suicide

         On September 12, 2013 around 1:37 PM, Chicago Police Officers arrested Okoi Ofem (“Ofem.”) (Dkt. 122, ¶ 8.) Ofem was taken to the District 4 Lockup for processing. (Dkt. 122, ¶ 9.) Per policy, lockup personnel took Ofem's shoelaces, belt, and keys and placed them into inventory. (Dkt. 122, ¶ 14.) Ofem's Processing Report states that he did not appear to be despondent or irrational. (Dkt. 120-6, at 5.) The Report also states that Ofem reported that he had not attempted suicide or serious harm to himself, and he did not have any serious medical or mental problems. (Id.) He was placed in Cell A-3, a one person cell. (Id.) At no point from his arrival to his criminal court visit did Ofem inform any Chicago Police personnel that he was contemplating self-harm or suicide.[1] (Dkt. 122, ¶ 19.) Early the next morning, on September 13, Ofem left the Lockup to visit the criminal court. (Id. ¶ 16.) On his ride back, he did not indicate any change in suicidal or self-harm ideation. (Id. ¶ 22.) However, he returned from court around 10:00 AM “surprised” according to Officer James Carrillo. Ofem asked what was happening, and Carrillo told him that to the best of his knowledge Ofem had been sent to the wrong court. (Dkt. 124-18, 10:3-15:11.) Ofem had been charged with a misdemeanor, not a felony. Carrillo told Ofem that Ofem would have to go to court at 26th and California. (Dkt. 122, ¶ 38.) Carrillo asked Ofem if he wanted anything to eat, and Ofem declined. (Id. ¶ 26.) Ofem still did not inform Carrillo or any officer that he was contemplating suicide or self-harm. (Id. ¶ 25.)

         The Lockup's logs from that day show that someone visually inspected Ofem every 15 minutes between 10:00 AM and 12:45 PM.[2] At least some of these visual checks happened in person. Mary Grobarcik, District Station Supervisor, conducted a walk-through of the Lockup at 11:30 AM. (Id. ¶¶ 31, 35-36.) During each in-person check, Ofem was asked if he would like something to eat. Each time, Ofem refused. (Id. ¶ 37.) At 12:45 PM, Carrillo checked on Ofem in person, along with Detention Aide Dennis Graham. Ofem stood off to the side, fully-clothed. (Dkt. 120-6, 102:9-103:8.) At 1:00 PM, Carrillo again checked on Ofem, this time through the livestream video monitor. (Id., 101:13-23.) At that time, only one of the eight video monitors at the Lock-up personnel desk worked. The monitor's camera did not depict a clear picture. (Dkt. 133, ¶ 12.) At approximately 1:10 PM, Graham looked at the video monitor. He noticed Ofem hanging from his cell. (Dkt. 122, ¶ 49.)

         Carrillo and Graham went to Ofem's cell. They discovered that Ofem had used his jeans to tie a noose around his neck. Ofem tied the other end to the horizontal bar in his cell such that the cell door could not easily open. (Id. ¶¶ 50-51.) Officer Carrillo yanked the cell door several times to open it. Graham took a pocket knife and cut the jeans from Ofem's neck. Officer James Mangan ran to call for medical assistance. (Id. ¶¶ 52-54.) The suicide occurred less than ten minutes but “probably less than five minutes” before they found him. (Id. ¶¶ 70, 73.)

         When the jeans were removed from his neck, Ofem let out a groan. Carrillo administered chest compressions. (Id. ¶ 55.) The paramedics arrived, and Ofem still had a pulse. (Id. ¶ 57.) He was transported to Trinity Hospital but died from the injuries he sustained. (Id. ¶ 58.)

         II. Policies

         On September 12 and 13 of 2013, Chicago detention facilities operated under Special Order S06-01-02, issued by the Chicago Police Department, governing the facilities' procedures and responsibilities (“Special Order”). (Dkt. 120-25.) Among other responsibilities, the Special Order provides that lockup personnel will:

7. [P]rior to accepting any arrestee, conduct an initial inspection of the subject following the Guidelines for Arrestee Screening and Monitoring chart…[3]
8. [I]f screening process indicates that the arrestee is perceived to be mentally/chemically impaired or suicidal, the station supervisor will be notified immediately.
9. [N]ot accept any arrestee…who has injuries…that may require hospitalization or the immediate attention of a healthcare professional…
13. [C]omplete the intake screening questions process following the Guidelines for Arrestee Screening and Monitoring Chart…

(Dkt. 120-125, at 2.) Further, the Special Order notes that, in instances where an arrestee responds “yes” to the arrestee questions of “attempted suicide/serious harm, ” or the visual check determines the arrestee to be despondent, the lockup personnel will check the corresponding box. When the arrestee was a “present or prior” danger to themselves “i.e. attempt suicide, caused harm to self, despondent, ” lockup personnel was to place the arrestee in a cell closest to the lockup keeper. (Id., at 3, ¶¶ 16-18.) The Special Order also provides that personnel will:

23. [C]omplete a visual check of every arrestee every 15 minutes following the Guidelines for Arrestee Screening and Monitoring chart and record the time of each inspection, a concise statement of conditions found, notable occurrences, actions take [sic], if any, and the initials and employee identification number on the Inspection Log...

(Id.) (emphasis in original). Finally, the Order requires the Station Supervisor to ensure the above and “at a minimum, independently conduct thorough inspections of the lockups and arrestees at least four (4) times per tour….” (Id., at 4.) At the ...


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