United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. Bucklo United States District Judge.
Jesus “Mike” Castrejon (“Castrejon”),
Omar Nazario (“Nazario”), Edwin Mercado
(“Mercado”), Osmar Rodriguez
(“Rodriguez”), and Nicholas Gomez
(“Gomez”) have sued a group of twelve Chicago
police officers (“defendants, ” “the
officers”) and the City of Chicago. The suit arises
in connection with plaintiffs' arrest by defendants
during an altercation in Chicago's Humboldt Park
neighborhood. Plaintiffs allege several violations of their
civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as various
causes of action under Illinois law. Defendants have moved
for partial summary judgment with respect to certain of the
claims asserted by plaintiffs Castrejon and Nazario. For the
reasons discussed below, the motion is granted in part and
denied in part.
evening of June 16, 2011, Rodriguez, Nazario, and Gomez were
working at a barbershop. Rodriguez witnessed two individuals,
whom he believed to be gang members, standing in front of the
barbershop and flashing gang signs at passing cars. He asked
the gang members to leave, and when they refused, he asked
one of his fellow barbers to call the police.
five and ten minutes later, two Chicago police officers
arrived on the scene. Although the putative gang members soon
left, other officers continued to arrive on the scene until
about thirty officers were present. Plaintiffs claim that the
officers began lining up and putting on gloves. Castrejon,
one of the barbershop's customers, stepped outside to see
what was going on. He testified that it looked like the
police were “ready for war” and that he feared
for his life. Pls.' L.R. 56(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 7. At
Rodriguez's suggestion, Castrejon began to record the
events on his cell phone.
video, which lasts approximately fifty-three seconds, shows
several police officers standing outside of the barbershop.
See Defs'. Ex. E, Castrejon Cell Phone
Recording. The officers appear to be speaking with one
another and with civilians. Castrejon can be heard commenting
on events as he pans his cell phone around the scene. During
the recording, he makes several references to Rodney King,
the motorist whose beating in 1991 by Los Angeles police
officers was captured on video, ultimately leading to the
criminal conviction of certain of the officers for violating
King's constitutional rights. As discussed more fully
below, the parties dispute precisely what Castrejon said and
what his references to Rodney King meant. According to
plaintiffs, Castrejon said, “It's going to be some
Rodney King.” Pls.' Resp. Br. at 2. They claim that
Castrejon was expressing concern about impending police
brutality. According to defendants, Castrejon said,
“[L]et's see some Rodney King shit up in
here!” See Defs.' Reply Br. at 4. They
contend that Castrejon was seeking to instigate a
confrontation with the police.
undisputed that Sergeant Karl Kruger (“Kruger”)
and other officers informed Castrejon that he did not have
their permission to record them. It is also undisputed that
Castrejon nonetheless continued to record. Near the end of
the video, Kruger can be heard telling Castrejon to put the
phone away. Kruger then says to Castrejon, “You put
your hands on me, motherfucker? You put your fucking hands on
me?” Defs.' Ex. E; see also Defs.' Ex.
B, Trial Tr. at 91:17-19 (Kruger testifying that these
statements were made by him). A scuffle ensues, and the
recording abruptly ends.
to plaintiffs, Kruger at this point “launched at
Castrejon and pinned him against the window of the barbershop
and smacked Castrejon's phone while another officer
plowed Castrejon in the ribs.” Pls.' L.R.
56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 10. Defendants deny that Kruger
“launched” at Castrejon or smacked his phone, or
that anyone “plowed” Castrejon in the ribs. They
say that Kruger pushed Castrejon against the window after
Castrejon grabbed Kruger's wrist and punched Kruger in
the chest. Defs.' Resp. to Pls.' 56. Stmt.
¶¶ 10, 35.
the altercation broke out between Kruger and Castrejon, a
full-blown melee ensued. Sergeant William Grassi
(“Grassi”) told the officers to “Get
everybody!” and the officers converged on the
barbershop and began arresting people. In addition to
Castrejon, several other plaintiffs claim that the officers
used excessive force in arresting them. As relevant here,
Nazario alleges that the officers dragged him from the foyer
of the barbershop and proceeded to kick him in the face and
head, strike him with a baton on his back and neck, and shoot
him twice in the buttocks with a taser gun. Pls.' Resp.
Br. at 3; Pls.' L.R. 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 14-16.
Defendants deny these allegations and claim that Nazario was
arrested because he rushed at a group of officers and tried
to punch Sergeant Grassi. Defs.' Resp. to Pls.' L.R.
56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 14-16.
all of the plaintiffs were placed under arrest. All were
charged with resisting/obstructing a peace officer; and all
except Castrejon were charged with mob action. Nazario and
Castrejon were additionally charged with aggravated battery;
and Castrejon was charged with violating Illinois'
eavesdropping statute based on his recording of the officers
without their consent. All of the resisting/obstructing and
mob action charges were ultimately dropped. After a
preliminary hearing, a state court found probable cause for
the eavesdropping charge against Castrejon and the aggravated
battery charges against both Castrejon and Nazario.
See Preliminary Hr'g Trans., Defs.' Ex. I at
21:22. The eavesdropping charge was later dropped, and in
November 2016, Castrejon and Nazario were tried and acquitted
on the aggravated-battery charges.
complaint asserts nine causes of action. Four of these allege
violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983: excessive force (Count
I); failure to intervene (Count II); unlawful seizure/false
arrest (Count III); and illegal pretrial detention (Count
IV). The remaining claims arise under Illinois state law:
assault (Count V); battery (Count VI); malicious prosecution
(Count VII); indemnification (Count VIII); and conspiracy
move for summary judgment as to Castrejon's § 1983
claims for failure to intervene, false arrest, and illegal
pretrial detention, and well as Castrejon's and
Nazario's conspiracy claim. The motion is granted as to
Castrejon's § 1983 claims and denied without
prejudice as to the conspiracy claim.
Castrejon's Claims for False Arrest, Failure to
Intervene, and Illegal Pretrial Detention
claims for failure to intervene (Count II), false arrest
(Count III) and illegal pretrial detention (Count IV) are
interrelated: the false-arrest claim alleges that Castrejon
was arrested without probable cause for eavesdropping; his
failure-to-intervene claim alleges that defendants failed to
prevent the false arrest, 3d Am. Compl. ¶ 50; and his
illegal-pretrial-detention claim alleges that he was wrongly
detained based on the false arrest, id. ¶ 57.
Thus, the parties' briefing proceeds on the assumption
that if Castrejon's false arrest-claim fails, his
failure-to-intervene and illegal-pretrial-detention claims
fail as well. See Defs.' Br. at 7-8; Pls.'
Resp. Br. at 7 n.2.
prevail on a false-arrest claim under § 1983, a
plaintiff must show that there was no probable cause for his
arrest.” Neita v. City of Chicago, 830 F.3d
494, 497 (7th Cir. 2016). “Probable cause to arrest
exists if the totality of the circumstances known to the
officer at the time of the arrest would warrant a reasonable
person in believing that the arrestee had committed, was