November 9, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. l:12-cv-06347 -
Edmond E. Chang, Judge.
Ripple, Manion, and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
Manion, Circuit Judge.
Sanchez appeals the denial of his motion for a new trial in
his § 1983 action against Officer Louis Garcia of the
Chicago Police Department. Sanchez alleges that the trial
court made multiple evidentiary errors, gave an improper jury
instruction, and wrongfully accepted a partial verdict.
Because we conclude that a new trial is not required, we
facts underlying the parties' dispute are contested.
However, because the jury rendered a verdict in favor of
Garcia, we recount the facts, unless noted otherwise,
"in the light most favorable to him." See Staub
v. Proctor Hosp., 562 U.S. 411, 413 (2011).
the night of August 10, 2010, Garcia and his partner, Officer
William Murphy, were on patrol in an unmarked police car.
Garcia observed Sanchez fail to stop his van as required at
multiple intersections and fail to maintain his lane three
times. Garcia also observed that the van's passenger
sliding door was completely open. Garcia turned on his siren
and lights, but Sanchez did not stop. Garcia eventually
pulled up next to Sanchez in the left lane, and Murphy, who
was sitting in the passenger seat, motioned for Sanchez to
pull over. Sanchez responded by extending his middle finger
(Sanchez maintains he flashed a "peace" sign) and
waving for the officers to pass him.
driving a bit farther, Sanchez eventually pulled over near
his home and immediately got out of his van, stumbling as he
did so. Garcia noted that Sanchez smelled of alcohol, had
red, bloodshot eyes, and was mumbling vulgarities about the
police. Garcia approached Sanchez and ordered him to get on
the ground. Sanchez refused and stood with his hands clenched
in fists by his sides. Sanchez then took a swing at Garcia,
but missed. Garcia responded by striking Sanchez in the face
and performing an emergency takedown maneuver to restrain
him. At that point, Murphy, who had been on the other side of
the van, came to assist Garcia. When the officers searched
the van, they found an open beer can and marijuana.
version of events after he stopped begins the same way, with
him stumbling out of the van. However, Sanchez maintains that
he struggled to exit the van because of reconstructive
surgery on his stomach that was performed after a traffic
accident in 2008. Apparently, this surgery left his stomach
badly disfigured and makes it difficult for him to get out of
his van. He also claims that his stomach prevented him from
getting on the ground, as he cannot lie on his stomach.
Sanchez believes this fact should have been evident to Garcia
because Sanchez was not wearing a shirt at the time of the
stop. Sanchez states that, after exiting the van, he raised
his hands in the air, and Garcia struck him unprovoked.
Sanchez says he responded by telling Garcia that he could not
be knocked down that way, so Garcia struck him again, then
threw him to the ground on his stomach, stomped on his back,
and hit him in the back of the head.
being arrested, Sanchez was taken to the police station and
placed in a holding cell. Officer Karen Etti was called to
give Sanchez a breathalyzer test. When she went into the
cell, Sanchez was lying on the floor, smelling of alcohol and
mumbling profanities. When Etti asked Sanchez to get off the
floor so she could administer the test, Sanchez refused (he
claims he could not get off the floor because of his stomach
pain), but suggested they could pull him off the floor by his
pants. Eventually, with the assistance of other officers,
Sanchez was placed on a bench, but he then went back down to
the floor. This caused Etti to conclude Sanchez was too
intoxicated to be in custody, so she requested emergency
the paramedics dispatched was Sean Ragusa. He detected the
odor of alcohol on Sanchez, but found Sanchez alert and able
to answer questions. In his report, based on his
conversations with Sanchez and Garcia, Ragusa made a notation
ruling out battery as a cause of Sanchez's injuries.
he declined treatment at the hospital, Sanchez was taken to
the jail. When he was logged in just before 5:00 AM on August
11, the lockup keeper at the jail made a notation in the
arrest report that Sanchez did not appear visibly under the
influence of alcohol or drugs.
was eventually charged with aggravated driving under the
influence ("DUI"). One day, while he was awaiting
trial in jail, Sanchez attempted to go to lunch. Officer
Tyrone Felix prevented him from doing so, allegedly by
throwing Sanchez to the ground and dragging him to the
dormitory. Felix denied this, and maintained that Sanchez had
earlier said he did not intend to go to lunch, so it would
have thrown off the head count to allow him to go.
convicted Sanchez of the aggravated DUI. He was sentenced to
18 months' imprisonment and a year of supervised release.
Sanchez filed a direct appeal of his conviction, alleging,
inter alia, denial of the right to
self-representation and ineffective assistance of counsel.
The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed his conviction,
People v. Sanchez, No. 1-11-0900, 2013 WL 4711727
(111. App. Ct. Aug. 29, 2013), and the Illinois Supreme Court
denied his petition for leave to appeal, People v.
Sanchez, 2 N.E.3d 1049 (111. 2013).
the appellate courts had resolved his direct appeal, Sanchez
filed a petition for post-conviction relief, again alleging
numerous grounds for relief. The trial court denied his
petition on standing grounds. On appeal, the Illinois
Appellate Court concluded that his petition was timely filed,
but denied relief on the merits. People v. Sanchez,
No. 1-13-0369, 2015 WL 631544 (111. App. Ct. Feb. 11, 2015).
The Illinois Supreme Court denied Sanchez's petition for
leave to appeal. People v. Sanchez, 39 N.E.3d 1009
seeking relief from the Illinois state courts, Sanchez filed
the instant lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois. His
initial complaint named a multitude of defendants and made
numerous allegations, but the action ultimately whittled down
to three claims that went to trial: (1) Garcia used excessive
force in arresting Sanchez on August 10, (2) Garcia lacked
probable cause to arrest Sanchez, and (3) Felix used
excessive force on Sanchez in the jail.
trial, the district court resolved several motions in limine.
Among them, the district court concluded that, as a matter of
issue preclusion, Garcia could use Sanchez's conviction
for DUI to establish that Sanchez was, in fact, driving under
the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of his arrest.
During the trial, Sanchez submitted a proposed jury
instruction that stated the jury merely had to take it as
established that he had been convicted of the DUI.
Sanchez's proposed instruction also informed the jury of
his then-pending post-conviction challenge (the Illinois
Supreme Court had not yet denied his petition for leave to
appeal). The district court declined to use Sanchez's
instruction, instead informing the jury that it must take it
as conclusively proven that Sanchez was driving under the
influence on the day of his arrest.
other events before the case went to the jury are pertinent
to this appeal. First, the district court allowed
Murphy's deposition testimony (Murphy had moved to
Florida and was not available for trial), which contained
Murphy's accounts of what he had been told by Garcia
about the stop and arrest, to be read to the jury. Second,
the court allowed the introduction of Ragusa's
paramedic's report, which was based in part ...