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Hill v. City of Harvey

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

January 3, 2018

EZRA HILL, Plaintiff,
CITY OF HARVEY, et al., Defendants.



         Before the Court are three motions to dismiss Plaintiff Ezra Hill's (“Hill”) complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) by Defendants City of Harvey (“Harvey”), Officer Gregory Thomas (“Thomas”), Harvey Deputy Police Chief Jason Banks (“Banks”), Cook County, Assistant State's Attorney Liam Reardon (“Reardon”) (collectively, “Defendants”). For the following reasons, the motions to dismiss are denied.


         The following facts are taken from Hill's complaint and are assumed to be true for purposes of this motion to dismiss. Murphy v. Walker, 51 F.3d 714, 717 (7th Cir. 1995). The Court draws all reasonable inferences in favor of Hill. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         On March 12, 2014, at approximately 10:31 a.m., Eric Bond (“Bond”) was driving a stolen Honda Civic (“the Civic”) on Center Avenue, just north of East 146th Street in Harvey, Illinois when he spotted a black Oldsmobile Intrigue (“the Intrigue”) behind him. Though Hill owned the Intrigue, he was not inside the car at the time, as he had lent it to Andrew White (“White”) and Antonio Johnson (“Johnson”) earlier that morning. Also in the Civic with Bond were Alquan McReynolds (“McReynolds”) and Ahmad Thornton (“Thornton”). Due to a pre-existing conflict between the parties, White and Johnson emerged from the Intrigue and opened fire on the Civic. According to the complaint, White fired 6 bullets from a .38 Smith and Wesson Long Nose Revolver and Johnson fired 6 times from a .38 caliber Snub Nose Revolver.

         Bond sped off in the stolen Civic after the melee, ultimately colliding with a Ford Mustang at the intersection of East 147th Street and Center Avenue. Bond, McReynolds and Thornton then separately fled the scene of the collision on foot and were each subsequently apprehended by Harvey Police Officers. White and Johnson drove away from the scene and parked in the driveway of White's residence in Harvey. Officers Banks and Thomas arrived at the White residence roughly 20 minutes after the shooting, where they encountered White and Johnson sitting in the Intrigue.

         After arresting White and Johnson, Thomas searched the Intrigue and discovered a Benelli M4 semi-automatic shotgun (“the shotgun”) in the trunk. Thomas inventoried the shotgun as having six live rounds in it, which is the capacity for that particular weapon. After officers completed a search of the Intrigue, White and Johnson were transported to the Harvey police station. Upon arriving at the police station, White and Johnson participated in an identification lineup and then were subsequently separated - Johnson was placed in a cell, White in an interrogation room. According to the complaint, it is at this moment that Thomas, Banks and Reardon concocted their scheme to fabricate a case against Hill.

         McReynolds was the first person to be questioned by Thomas and Reardon at approximately 5:03 p.m. on the evening of March 12. Following the interview with McReynolds, Thomas created a Police Continuation Report (“McReynolds report”) that stated that McReynolds identified Johnson and White, but that “he did not see very clearly” another passenger in the Intrigue. However, the McReynolds report noted that McReynolds stated that the third person “appeared to be” Hill.

         After their interview with McReynolds, Thomas and Reardon questioned Thornton at 5:17 p.m. According to another report prepared by Thomas, Thornton observed White driving the Intrigue, with Hill in the back seat and Johnson “standing next to the black Oldsmobile on the passenger's side…and pointing a black handgun toward the vehicle [sic] was occupied by him, Bond and McReynolds, Alquan.” Thornton's report contradicted the McReynolds' report, the latter allegedly claiming that three individuals were outside of the car firing guns at the Civic.

         Following their interviews with McReynolds and Thornton, Thomas and Reardon questioned Bond. Bond admitted to Thomas that on the morning of March 12, 2014, he gave a fake name to the arresting officer, Officer Jeffery Tibbs (“Tibbs”), because he had an outstanding warrant. Following his interview with Bond, Thomas created a report to memorialize their discussion. In the report, Bond allegedly claimed that he observed White exit from the driver's seat of the Intrigue, Hill exit from the driver's-side back seat and Johnson exit the front passenger door. The report further stated that Bond saw all three men with weapons and all three fired at the Civic. The report specifically stated that Bond observed Hill with a “large gun.”

         After interviewing Bond, Thomas and Reardon questioned White. Present with White during the discussion was his mother Elizabeth Kellogg (“Kellogg”). During the questioning Hill alleged that Thomas and Reardon threatened White to agree to their version of events or risk being charged with multiple counts of attempted murder. Thomas and Reardon pressured then fifteen-year-old White to state that “Hill was in the car and fired the shotgun four times.” Banks, also in the room for part of the questioning, told White that they intended to tie the alleged crime to Hill. Banks implored White to call Hill on his cellular phone in an effort to entrap him. The complaint is unclear as to whether White ever placed the call to Hill. However, the complaint alleges that Thomas and Reardon threatened White that he could be tried and sentenced as an adult on multiple counts of attempted murder if he did not support their version of events.

         Thomas and Reardon prepared a statement for White to sign at 12:22 a.m., on Thursday, March 13, 2014, that implicated Hill. White did not read the statement before signing it. However, Hill contends that White repeatedly told Thomas, Banks, and Reardon that Hill was not with them.

         Hill alleges that “at no point did the [Harvey policed department] identify or produce any physical evidence that could link Hill to the crime.” The complaint is imprecise as to what evidence was presented to the grand jury that indicted Hill. The complaint does make clear that both McReynolds and Thornton testified before the grand jury, but both delivered testimony that Hill argues contradicted the official reports prepared by Thomas. Specifically, Hill alleges that McReynolds testified that only White and Johnson emerged from the Intrigue and fired on the Civic. Moreover, McReynolds also testified that after identifying White and Johnson in a lineup, he was instructed by Thomas and Banks to pick Hill out of a photo composite with pictures of Hill and five other men. McReynolds admitted to not knowing Hill well, but picked Hill from the photo composite only because he was instructed to do so. On the grand jury witness stand, when asked directly if he saw Hill shooting at him, McReynolds responded “no.” When asked if he saw Hill in the car, he responded “I don't think I saw him in the car.”

         Thornton also admitted to the grand jury that he could only recall “about like 10, 11” shots fired from the Intrigue, and relayed that to Thomas. According to Hill, Thomas insisted in his report, that 16 shots were fired - 12 from the revolvers, four from the shotgun. At no point in Thornton's grand jury testimony did he identify Hill as a participant in the crime. Instead, Thornton's only testimony about Hill was merely that he knew who Hill was, through a mutual acquaintance. At some point, which is unclear from the complaint, the grand jury returned an indictment for Hill's ...

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