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Gilbert v. City of Chicago

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

August 28, 2019

SAKEEN L. GILBERT, as administrator of the estate of TERRANCE GILBERT, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, a municipal corporation; and CASEY KASPER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HARRY D. LEINENWEBER JUDGE

         This is a case involving a police shooting and claims of excessive force under the Fourth Amendment and wrongful death and battery under Illinois state law. Plaintiff Sakeena Gilbert (“Plaintiff”) brought this case as the administrator of the estate of Terrance Gilbert, who was killed in the shooting. Defendants City of Chicago and Casey Kasper (“Defendants”) jointly move for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 113) against Plaintiff on all claims. For the reasons stated herein, the Motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are undisputed. Terrance Gilbert (“Gilbert”) lived with relatives at 450 East Marquette in Chicago. (Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Stmt. of Material Facts (“DSOF”) ¶ 7, Dkt. No. 129.) One of these relatives was Deecie Thompson (“Thompson”). On December 25, 2014, Gilbert called 9-1-1 from Thompson's kitchen, gave a false name, provided a description of his own clothing, and asked police to respond to 450 East Marquette. (DSOF ¶ 8). Gilbert took a steak knife from the kitchen counter, hugged Thompson and her daughter, told them not to go outside, and said “I love you. This don't have nothing to do with you all.” (DSOF ¶¶ 9-11).

         Two paramedics working with the Chicago Fire Department, Luis Velez (“Velez”) and Robert Hickey (“Hickey”), responded first to a radio call at 450 East Marquette for a psychiatric emergency regarding a person with a knife. (DSOF ¶¶ 12-13.) Velez and Hickey arrived at about 6:48 p.m., exited the ambulance, saw Gilbert, and asked him if he was the person named in the radio call. Gilbert said no and told Velez his name was Rashad Johnson. (DSOF ¶¶ 14- 15.) Velez and Hickey returned to the ambulance and waited for the police. Gilbert paced around for a time and then went to the porch, where he was seated when police arrived. (DSOF ¶¶ 16-18.)

         Casey Kasper (“Kasper”) and Michael Tudron (“Tudron”), both Chicago police officers working a squadrol-a combination of a squad car and ambulance-arrived at about 7:00 p.m. They had received a radio call about a person who was irate, suicidal, and armed with a knife. (DSOF ¶¶ 21-25.) Tudron drove; Kasper was the passenger. (DSOF ¶ 25). When Kasper and Tudron arrived, Gilbert was sitting on the porch with his hands folded. (DSOF ¶ 28). Gilbert then approached the squadrol's passenger side with both hands in his waist area. (DSOF ¶¶ 29-30.) At least twice, Kasper told Gilbert to stop and take his hands out of his pants. (DSOF ¶ 31.) Gilbert stopped and took his hands out of his pants, and Kasper turned away from Gilbert to exit the squadrol. (DSOF ¶ 32.) Before Kasper could exit, Gilbert lunged on top of Kasper, knife in-hand, and stabbed him in the upper chest area, forcing him back into the squadrol. (DSOF ¶¶ 33-34.) Kasper fell on his back into the passenger seat of the squadrol. Gilbert climbed on top of Kasper and stabbed him three more times. (DSOF ¶¶ 34-37.) Kasper's bulletproof vest absorbed the worst of the attack, but he thought Gilbert was trying to stab him in the neck and tried to move away. (DSOF ¶¶ 34, 36, 39.) Kasper ultimately suffered redness and swelling on his chest but was otherwise unharmed. (PSOAF ¶ 4). Between the third and fourth stabs, Kasper slammed the door of the squadrol on Gilbert's arm. (DSOF ¶ 40.) At some point, the blade of the knife broke. (Defs.' Resp. to Pl.'s Stmt. of Add'l. Material Facts (“PSOAF”) ¶ 3 Dkt. No. 132.) Kasper noticed that Gilbert continued to hold the knife but did not realize that the blade had broken. (PSOAF ¶ 9.)

         Tudron ran to the rear passenger side of the squadrol and yelled “stop police.” Gilbert stopped stabbing at Kasper and started to walk away. (DSOF ¶¶ 43-44.) Kasper made a radio call for backup at about 7:03 p.m. Then Kasper drew his weapon and told Gilbert to stop and drop the knife. (DSOF ¶¶ 45-47.) Gilbert turned and faced Kasper and began advancing toward him. As Gilbert advanced, Kasper saw Gilbert holding the knife near his stomach. (DSOF ¶ 54.) Kasper backed away toward the squadrol and repeatedly told Gilbert to drop the knife. Gilbert did not drop the knife, and Kasper fired two shots at Gilbert in quick succession. (DSOF ¶¶ 47-55.) Gilbert fell to the ground. At about 7:03:55 p.m., Kasper used his radio to report that shots had been fired. (DSOF ¶¶ 56, 58.) About 21 seconds passed between the radio call for backup and the radio call reporting shots fired. (DSOF ¶ 57.) Velez and Hickey then moved Gilbert to the stretcher, at which time Hickey observed Gilbert holding a knife with a black handle and a two- to three-inch metallic blade. Velez observed a “through and through” gunshot wound to Gilbert's right wrist, a gunshot wound to his abdomen, and to his head. (DSOF ¶¶ 58-60, 62.) Paramedics transported Gilbert to Stroger Hospital, where he died of his wounds. (DSOF ¶¶ 65-66.)

         These events led the administrator of Gilbert's estate to bring this suit, which now includes three counts: (1) a claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983 of Fourth Amendment Excessive Force against Kasper; (2) a claim under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act against both Defendants; (3) and a battery claim under the Illinois Survival Act against both Defendants. Defendants now move for summary judgment on all claims.

         II. STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). There is a genuine issue of material fact when “there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.” See Harney v. Speedway SuperAmerica, LLC, 526 F.3d 1099, 1104 (7th Cir. 2008) (internal quotations and citation omitted).

         In considering this motion, the Court construes all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff. Id. The nonmoving party must “submit evidentiary materials that set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. (internal quotations and citation omitted). Finally, for the nonmoving party to prevail, it must show a genuine dispute of facts that might affect the outcome at trial; “[i]rrelevant or unnecessary facts do not deter summary judgment, even when in dispute.” Id. (internal quotations and citation omitted).

         Plaintiff argues that summary judgment is “often inappropriate for cases involving excessive force” because an officer's use of force is susceptible to different interpretations. (Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Mtn. for Summary Judgment at 4, Dkt. No. 128). For this proposition, Plaintiff cites Catlin v. City of Wheaton, 574 F.3d 361, 367 (7th Cir. 2009). However, in Catlin, the Seventh Circuit upheld summary judgment for the Defendants because there were no material facts leaving an open question of law as to whether the use of force was reasonable. Therefore, summary judgment is not proscribed in cases with a question of excessive force. If the Court finds that there is no genuine issue for trial, it may grant summary judgment.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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