United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. Lee United States District Judge.
Adam Gray has sued the City of Chicago (“the
City”); Elizabeth K. Barton, Special Representative of
the Estates of Nicholas C. Crescenzo, Jr., George Jenkins,
Michael A. Pochordo, Craig Cegielski, Ernest W. Rokosik, and
Joseph Gruszka; Daniel McInerny; Percy Davis; Robert
Fitzpatrick; L. Martinez; James R. Brown; Cook County, Illinois;
and as-yet unknown Chicago police detectives, all pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. In short, Gray alleges that Defendants
violated his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth
Amendments; failed to intervene to prevent the violation of
his constitutional rights; and conspired to deprive him of
his constitutional rights. Furthermore, he alleges that the
violation of his rights was the result of the City's
policies and practices. Finally, he asserts state-law claims
for intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious
prosecution, civil conspiracy, and indemnification, and seeks
to hold the City liable under the doctrine of respondeat
Davis, Fitzpatrick, and Barton (“the Individual City
Defendants”) have moved to dismiss Gray's second
amended complaint in its entirety. For the reasons stated
herein, the motion [is denied.
case arises from Gray's 1996 criminal conviction for
arson and murder. 2d. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1-2, ECF No.
82. Gray served over 24 years in prison before the conviction
was vacated in 2017. Id. ¶¶ 1, 8.
The Fire and Subsequent Investigation
broke out in a two-flat building at 4139 S. Albany Avenue in
Chicago, Illinois, at approximately 3:00 a.m. on March 25,
1993. Id. ¶ 26. Although the first-floor
occupants escaped, two second-floor residents perished in the
then 14 years old, lived with his family one block south of
4139 S. Albany. Id. ¶ 28. On the evening of
March 24, 1993, he was sleeping over at the home of his
friend, Mel Gonzalez, and Gonzalez and his family were home
throughout the night. Id. ¶ 27.
after the fire was extinguished, Gruszka, a Chicago Fire
Department fire marshal, began investigating the cause and
point of origin. Id. ¶ 29. He conferred with
Rokosik, a detective with the Chicago Police Department
(“CPD”) Bomb and Arson Unit. Id.
¶¶ 19, 30. Rokosik also spoke to other detectives
on the scene, including Jenkins, McInerny, and Crescenzo.
Id. ¶ 31.
investigating the scene, Gruszka used a hydrocarbon detector
and claimed to receive a “strong response” on the
porch, indicating the presence of liquid accelerant.
Id. ¶ 32. Gruszka knew, however, that an alert
from a hydrocarbon detector does not conclusively establish
that liquid accelerant was used, but must be confirmed by
laboratory testing. Id. ¶¶ 33-34.
and Gruszka also told other law enforcement officers, fire
department personnel, and prosecutors that an accelerant had
caused the fire, “based on the presence of heavy
charring, shiny blistering, and ‘alligatoring' on
the wooden porch and stairs.” Id. ¶ 35.
They knew, however, that there is “no correlation
between heavy charring, shiny blistering, or alligatoring of
wood and the use of an accelerant.” Id.
¶¶ 36-37. Furthermore, they knew that, according to
fire-investigation standards, fire investigators should not
claim the presence of accelerant based solely on the
appearance of charring. Id. ¶ 38.
took two samples for testing; both were negative for
gasoline, and one was negative for hydrocarbon residue.
Id. ¶¶ 39-41. The other contained
petroleum distillates “often associated with wooden
structures due to their use as preservatives for wood.”
Id. ¶ 42. According to Plaintiff, there was
simply no evidence to support the conclusion that an
accelerant was used to start the fire. Id.
¶¶ 43-44. Although Rokosik and Gruszka knew that
determining the cause of a fire requires identifying the
ignition source, first fuel ignited, and ignition sequence,
they did not identify or collect evidence of any of these
elements. Id. ¶ 45. Additionally, although they
knew that a fire investigator must eliminate “all
reasonably possible natural and accidental causes”
before declaring a fire to be arson, they declared the fire
at 4139 S. Albany an arson before eliminating such possible
causes. Id. ¶¶ 46-49.
examining the scene, Rokosik and CPD detective Crescenzo
spoke to Kasey Paris, a 14-year-old girl whose family lived
in the first-floor apartment at 4139 S. Albany. Id.
¶ 50. Paris, who was angry at Gray, told the detectives
that she and Gray had not been getting along. Id.
and Crescenzo also spoke to a witness, Karrie Kelly, who told
the officers that she had seen someone carrying something and
wearing a black knit hat, black shirt, black pants, and black
shoes in the alley behind 4139 S. Albany. Id. ¶
52. Although Rokosik and Crescenzo “had every reason to
know” that Kelly--who was “on muscle relaxants,
exhausted, and feeling ill”-- was not credible, Rokosik
and CPD detective McInerny “went looking” for
Gray. Id. ¶¶ 53-55.
Arrest and Interrogation
Rokosik and McInerny arrived at Gray's house, his mother
told them that Gray had slept over at Gonzalez's house,
but was then at his brother's house. Id. ¶
56. Although Rokosik and McInerny did not tell Gray's
mother that they intended to arrest him, they proceeded to
Gray's brother's home and arrested Gray. Id.
¶¶ 57-58. They did not tell Gray that he was under
arrest, and they did not read him Miranda warnings.
Id. ¶¶ 59-61.
was taken to the Area One police station at 51st
Street and Wentworth Avenue, where he arrived at
approximately 5:00 or 5:15 a.m. on March 25, 1993.
Id. ¶¶ 62-63. Rokosik and McInerny left
Gray alone in a room at the station. Id. ¶ 64.
After some time, Crescenzo entered the room and searched
Gray's school bag. Id. ¶ 65. At various
points, other Police Officer Defendants entered the room
and searched Gray's bag, smelled his shoes, and told him
to empty his pockets. Id. ¶ 66.
County Assistant State's Attorney Brown was also at the
police station, “actively working on [the]
investigation” with the Police Officer Defendants.
Id. ¶ 67. Eventually, Brown took Gray into
another room with a two-way mirror. Id. ¶ 68.
He “sat very close” to Gray and told him he was
there to ask him questions. Id. The Police Officer
Defendants were also present for this interview, and they
joined Brown in questioning Gray. Id. ¶¶
and the Police Officer Defendants initially asked benign
questions, and Gray did not realize he was a suspect.
Id. ¶¶ 70-71. At some point, however,
Brown and the Police Officer Defendants began “harshly
interrogat[ing]” Gray, “isolating him, denying
him the right to counsel, denying him access to family
members who had asked to talk to him, and fe[eding] him
information about the ...