United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Daniel Taylor was convicted of murder and spent more than 20
years in prison before his conviction was vacated. He filed
this lawsuit against the City of Chicago (“the
City”) and Chicago police officers Anthony Villardita,
Thomas Johnson, Brian Killacky, Terry O’Connor, Rick
Abreu, Robert Delaney, Sean Glinski, and Michael Berti
(collectively, “the Officer Defendants”),
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Taylor alleges that the
Officer Defendants coerced him to give a false confession and
concealed exculpatory evidence. The Officer Defendants and
the City seek summary judgment on Taylor’s claims. For
the reasons stated herein, the Officer Defendants’
motion  is granted in part and denied in part, and the
City’s motion  is denied.
The November 16, 1992 Murders and Subsequent Arrests
case involves relatively few undisputed facts. At
approximately 8:43 p.m. on November 16, 1992, Jeffrey
Lassiter and Sharon Haugabook were shot and killed in
Lassiter’s apartment at 910 W. Agatite Avenue in
Chicago. Officer Defs.’ LR 56.1 Stmt.
(“Defs.’ SOF”) ¶ 10, ECF No.
Within minutes, police officers arrived on the scene.
Id. ¶ 11. Detectives Villardita and Johnson of
the Chicago Police Department (“CPD”) were
assigned to lead the investigation. Id. ¶ 12.
scene, the detectives spoke with Faye McCoy, who lived in
Lassiter’s apartment complex. Id. ¶ 13.
McCoy told the detectives that she had seen four
African-American men leaving the building shortly after the
shootings. Id. Two days later, after viewing a photo
lineup, she identified one of the men as Dennis Mixon, a/k/a
“Goldie.” Id., Ex. 7, Villardita Dep.
Vol. I at 121:8–122:7, 133:10–134:7, ECF No.
484-8; Id., Ex. 8, Johnson Dep. Vol. I at
119:10–14, 149:5–9, ECF No. 484-10; Pl.’s
LR 56.1 Stmt. Add’l Facts (“Pl.’s
SOF”) ¶ 3, ECF No. 496. Mixon was also mentioned
in an information report prepared by CPD officer Renard Foote
(“the Foote information report”) on November 17.
Pl.’s SOF ¶ 4. The report indicates that, in the
weeks leading up to the murders, Lassiter and Mixon were
involved in a dispute over drugs and property. Id.
Further investigation revealed that Mixon’s brother,
Larry Mixon, along with several other individuals, had
recently been arrested for trespassing near the murder scene.
Id. ¶ 5.
weeks passed with little development in the case, until
December 2, when CPD officers arrested Lewis Gardner, Paul
Phillips, and Akia Phillips. Id. ¶ 12. Although
the three teenagers were brought in for drug possession,
Gardner eventually provided a transcribed statement
implicating himself in the murders of Lassiter and Haugabook.
Id. ¶ 20; Defs.’ SOF ¶ 17. Gardner
also implicated Paul and Akia Phillips, as well as Taylor,
Mixon, Deon Patrick, Joseph Brown, and Rodney Matthews, who
also were arrested and eventually confessed to their
involvement in the murders. Defs.’ SOF ¶ 21.
circumstances surrounding these confessions, however, are
hotly disputed––as are the events surrounding the
criminal case that followed. The Court will summarize each
side’s version of the facts and will address the
material disputes as necessary.
Taylor’s Confession and Subsequent
The Officer Defendants’ Version
to the Officer Defendants, Taylor and his co-defendants
voluntarily confessed to the crimes. Id.
¶¶ 17–18, 20–21. On the day that Taylor
was arrested––December 3, 1992–– Faye
McCoy, the eyewitness from the murder scene, viewed a lineup
consisting of Taylor, Paul Phillips, Patrick, Matthews, and
two other individuals. Id. ¶ 22. Detectives
O’Connor and Villardita stayed with McCoy while she
viewed the lineup, while Detectives Delaney and Killacky were
inside the room with the lineup participants. Id.
¶ 23. Afterward, Villardita and O’Connor told
Delaney and Killacky that McCoy said she knew Taylor and his
co-defendants and had previously seen them in the
neighborhood. Id. ¶ 24. Delaney and Killacky
documented this information in a supplementary report
(“the lineup supplementary report”). Id.
at some point while Taylor was in custody, he told Villardita
and Johnson that he had been “locked up” in the
23rd District on the night of the murders. Id.
¶¶ 19, 25. Villardita and Johnson examined
Taylor’s criminal history report, but found no mention
of an arrest on November 16, so Villardita asked Officer
Steve Caluris to see if there were any arrest reports for
Taylor in the 23rd District that day. Id.
¶¶ 26–27. On December 6, Caluris informed
Villardita that he had located an arrest report for a
“Daniel Taylor, ” indicating that Taylor had been
arrested on November 16. Id. ¶ 28. Villardita
and Johnson went to the 23rd District station and located a
copy of Taylor’s arrest report and bond slip, which
showed that Taylor had been arrested for disorderly conduct
at 6:45 p.m. on November 16 and had been released from
custody at 10:00 p.m., when he bonded out in the presence of
Officer James Gillespie. Id. ¶¶
and Johnson recognized that these documents appeared to show
that Taylor had been in custody at the time of the murders,
which conflicted with his confession. Id. ¶ 32.
They checked to see if Taylor had been photographed or
fingerprinted upon arrival at the 23rd District, but he had
not been. Id. ¶ 33. And they looked at a
“personnel roster” for the 23rd District, which
listed the names and assignments of personnel working at the
station on November 16. Id. ¶ 34.
next day, while Taylor remained in custody, Villardita and
Johnson met with Cook County Assistant State’s
Attorneys (“ASAs”) David Styler and Garritt
Howard and informed them of the conflict between
Taylor’s confession and the arrest report and bond
slip. Id. ¶ 36. It was decided that Styler
would interview the 23rd District personnel working on the
night in question, while Villardita and Johnson would attempt
to locate any witnesses who may have seen Taylor and his
co-defendants prior to the murders. Id. ¶¶
December 18, ASA Styler sent grand jury subpoenas to 23rd
District personnel who worked at the station on November 16,
based on the names that appeared on the arrest report and
personnel roster. Id. ¶ 44. He interviewed
various officers on December 22 and 23 and took notes of
these interviews, identifying which officers and civilian
aides were on duty during the third watch of November 16 and
the first watch on November 17. Id. ¶¶
45–46. Styler also noted the importance of tracking
down James Anderson, who had shared a cell with Taylor that
night. Id. ¶¶ 47–48. Additionally,
he made reference in his notes to a “log book, ”
and stated that there were no individuals in the lockup at
7:15 p.m., while there were five in the lockup at 8:30 p.m.
Id. ¶ 49.
point, using the arrest report and bond slip, Villardita and
Johnson drafted a timeline of Taylor’s movements on
November 16, which they put into a General Progress Report
(“GPR”) (the “timeline GPR”).
Id. ¶ 39. They also requested that Detectives
Robert Elmore and James Gildea obtain arrest reports and bond
slips for other individuals who were in the lockup on
November 16, as well as a copy of the list of people who were
there that night (“the lockup roster”).
Id. ¶ 40. Elmore and Gildea provided these
documents to Villardita and Johnson on December 7.
Id. Villardita and Johnson then turned over the
documents to ASA Howard, and a copy of the lockup roster was
also sent to the State’s Attorney’s Office
(“SAO”). Id. ¶¶ 42–43.
Meanwhile, Elmore and Gildea searched for Anderson and
documented these efforts in a GPR. Id. ¶ 41.
investigating Taylor’s alibi, Villardita and Johnson
documented an interview with Adrian Grimes, who said he had
seen Taylor at a park on November 16, during the time that
police records indicated that Taylor was in custody.
Id. ¶ 50. They also spoke to Michael Seymore,
who stated that he had seen Taylor on the street shortly
after the murders. Id. ¶ 51. The detectives
also followed up on Taylor’s confession, in which he
stated that on the night of the murders, he had gone with two
officers to help them find Akia Phillips. Id. ¶
53. These officers, who were discovered to be Berti and
Glinski, drafted a supplementary report on December 14, in
which they documented their interactions with Taylor on the
night of the murders (“the Berti/Glinski supplementary
report”). Id. ¶¶ 53–54.
police also continued searching for Anderson, without
success. Id. ¶ 55. On December 29, Sergeant
Fred Bonke wrote a GPR instructing detectives to look for
Anderson. Id. Two days later, Detective John
Fitzsimmons wrote that “in regards to the [GPR from] 30
Dec[ember] 1992 from Villardita and Johnson, ” he had
gone to the Salvation Army to look for Anderson, but had been
unable to find him. Id. ¶ 56. But this was an
error, as Fitzsimmons now states that he had actually been
referring to Bonke’s GPR of December 29. Id.
paints a very different picture of what transpired between
Gardner’s arrest and Taylor’s eventual conviction
for murder. He states that, although Johnson and
Villardita had identified Mixon as a suspect, they failed to
follow up in any meaningful way, instead telling their
colleagues to “clear [the] case” by December 2,
when they returned from their time off. Pl.’s SOF
¶ 10. When the case was not “cleared, ” they
pinned the murders on three teenagers who had been arrested
for drug possession, along with several other youths
including Taylor. Id. ¶¶ 12–28,
30– 41. They did this even though Taylor and his
co-defendants were innocent and, prior to December 2, nothing
in the investigation had pointed to them. Id.
and Delaney arrested Taylor at 2:15 a.m. on December 3.
Id. ¶ 35. While on the way to the station, one
of the officers punched Taylor in the chest. Id.
¶ 37. Upon arrival at the station, Taylor was placed in
an interrogation room and handcuffed to a ring on the wall.
Id. ¶ 38. The Officer Defendants then
interrogated him about the murders of Lassiter and Haugabook.
Id. When Taylor denied any knowledge of the crimes,
the officers began acting “verbally and physically
aggressive” toward him, including striking him with a
flashlight and punching him, and they threatened to continue
doing so unless he confessed. Id. ¶¶
38–40. Eventually, Taylor confessed to the murders
(even though it was not true), and the Officer Defendants fed
him false details of the crime to do so. Id.
also asserts that the Officer Defendants fabricated the
lineup supplementary report after McCoy viewed the lineup on
December 3. Id. ¶ 46. What actually transpired,
he states, is that McCoy told the Officer Defendants that
Taylor, Patrick, Matthews, and Paul Phillips were
not the men she had seen on the night of the
murders, and that they instead needed to track down Mixon.
Id. ¶ 45. Despite this, Killacky and Delaney
wrote in their report that McCoy had seen the four
co-defendants in the neighborhood, omitting that she had not
seen them on the night of the murders. Id. ¶
to Taylor, he could not have committed the crimes, because he
was in custody when they occurred. Id. ¶ 49. He
told this to Villardita and Johnson on December 3, but they
claimed that there was no record of him being in lockup that
night. Id. ¶ 50. But on December 6, Villardita
and Johnson obtained documentation confirming Taylor’s
alibi; namely, his arrest report, bond slip, the lockup
roster, and the personnel roster from the 23rd District.
Id. ¶¶ 51–53. They also learned that
Anderson had shared a cell with Taylor, and they tried to
locate Anderson, as documented in several GPRs. Id.
¶ 54. Contrary to the Officer Defendants’ version
of events, Taylor states that they successfully located and
interviewed Anderson, who confirmed that he had seen Taylor
in the lockup at the time of the murders. Id. ¶
the Officer Defendants learned of Taylor’s alibi, he
asserts, they went to great lengths to fabricate evidence,
including creating several reports, to undercut it.
Id. ¶ 64. For instance, on December 8,
Villardita and Johnson falsified a GPR stating that they had
met with Gillespie (the officer who had signed Taylor’s
bond slip), who told them that Taylor “could have been
gone already” when Gillespie signed the slip at 10:00
p.m. Id. ¶ 59. They also falsified a GPR
stating that Gillespie had told them that people who were
arrested for disorderly conduct were generally released in
short order. Id. ¶ 60. The December 8 GPR also
stated that Grimes had seen Taylor prior to the
murders––but this statement was fabricated and
was the product of coercion. Id. ¶ 61. Using
physical force, threats, and promises of leniency on
unrelated drug charges, the Officer Defendants pressured
Grimes into identifying Taylor. Id. ¶ 62.
Grimes would later testify at Taylor’s criminal trial
in a manner consistent with this report, but according to
Taylor, that testimony, too, was false and coerced.
Id. In addition, the Officer Defendants fabricated a
report of an interview with Michael Seymore, who allegedly
told them that he had seen Taylor on the night of the murders
prior to 10:00 p.m. Id. ¶ 63.
more, Villardita and Johnson asked Berti and Glinski to
fabricate a report of an encounter with Taylor prior to 10:00
p.m. on the night of the murders. Id. ¶ 65.
When Berti and Glinski prepared the report, they knew that
Taylor had actually been in custody at the time. Id.
Since then, Glinski has repeatedly lied about the
circumstances surrounding the report’s creation.
Id. ¶ 67. When he testified at Taylor’s
criminal trial, he acknowledged that, when he prepared the
report, he was aware of Taylor’s lockup alibi; but when
he later testified at the civil trial of Taylor’s
co-defendant, Patrick,  he stated that he learned about
Taylor’s alibi after drafting the report.
Id. ¶¶ 67, 70. In any event, the report is
inaccurate, because while Taylor did encounter Berti
and Glinski on the night of the murders, it was not until
after he was released from lockup at 10:00 p.m. Id.
Discovery, Legal Representation, and the Criminal
The Officer Defendants’ Version
Thomas Needham was assigned to prosecute Taylor and his
co-defendants and was made aware of the conflict between
Taylor’s confession and the arrest report and bond
slip. Defs.’ SOF ¶¶ 57–58. At some
point, ASA Jeanne Bischoff was also assigned to the case, and
was also made aware of Taylor’s lockup alibi.
Id. ¶¶ 66–68.
Needham was responsible for providing discovery to
Taylor’s criminal defense counsel, including any
exculpatory material. Id. ¶¶ 59–60.
According to the Officer Defendants, all relevant GPRs and
other documents were produced to the SAO, and on February 23,
1993, Needham tendered a “full set” of police
reports, arrest reports, written statements, and other
materials to Taylor’s counsel. Id.
¶¶ 61–65. He also disclosed to defense
counsel that the State might call McCoy, Grimes, and Seymore
as witnesses, and provided their contact information.
Id. ¶ 69.
was represented by Nathan Diamond-Falk, an experienced
criminal defense attorney, and Ellen Rubin, who began working
on the case after the pretrial phase. Id.
¶¶ 70, 83. Diamond-Falk was aware that Taylor
claimed to have an alibi for the murders, and he had the
November 16 arrest report and bond slip. Id.
¶¶ 92–93. Although Diamond-Falk knew the
attorneys who were representing Taylor’s co-defendants
and could have asked them if their clients were claiming to
have been coerced, he did not do so, because he did not
believe such evidence would be admissible at trial.
Id. ¶¶ 71–72, 77. Similarly, he did
not ask to see the other attorneys’ discovery
materials. Id. ¶¶ 73–74.
August 1993, Diamond-Falk sent a subpoena requesting
“lock up records from the 23rd District from November
14, 1992 through November 17, 1992.” Id.
¶ 75. When he did not receive a response, he did not
file a motion to compel, although he was aware that the CPD
kept records of people who were arrested and detained.
Id. ¶¶ 75–76. Rubin also made no
attempt to obtain the documentation, despite her knowledge
that the CPD kept such records. Id. ¶¶ 86,
88. She did not “do any investigation as it relates to
[Taylor’s] criminal case” because she believed
Diamond-Falk had already done so. Id. ¶¶
89–90. Diamond-Falk and Rubin also did not attempt to
determine the identity of Taylor’s cellmate in the 23rd
District lockup. Id. ¶¶ 85, 87,
94–96. And, although they knew McCoy and Grimes had
been disclosed as witnesses, they did not attempt to
interview either of them. Id. ¶¶
and Rubin met with Taylor prior to his criminal trial and
discussed his alibi defense. Id. ¶¶
99–100. At that time, Diamond-Falk believed he had
everything in his file that should have been there.
Id. ¶ 101. The case proceeded to trial, and
Rubin called the 23rd District lockup keeper, John Meindl, as
a witness. Id. ¶ 102. Rubin asked Meindl how
many people had been in lockup on the evening of November 16,
1992, and Meindl stated that he would need to “look at
a lockup intake report” to give an accurate answer, but
that he did not have the report with him that day.
Id. ¶¶ 104–05. Yet, prior to the
conclusion of the trial, Rubin and Diamond-Falk did not
attempt to obtain the report Meindl had referenced.
Id. ¶¶ 106–07.
also testified at Taylor’s criminal trial. Id.
¶ 108. She stated that she had told the police that none
of the people in the lineup were those she had seen leaving
Lassiter’s apartment on the night of the murders.
Id. The trial concluded on September 7, 1995, and
Taylor was convicted of murder, home invasion, and robbery.
Id. ¶ 110.
to Taylor, the Officer Defendants withheld significant
evidence from his defense counsel, even though all material
information relating to the investigation should have been
placed in the CPD’s investigative file. Pl.’s SOF
¶ 72. For instance, Villardita and Johnson suppressed
evidence of Taylor’s alibi, such as the lockup roster
and the 23rd District personnel roster, and Diamond-Falk
never received copies of those documents. Id.
¶¶ 73–74. The Officer Defendants also
suppressed evidence of a logbook (“the visual check
logbook”) used by 23rd District officers to record
“visual checks” of detainees. Id. ¶
75. Moreover, they suppressed evidence relating to Anderson,
Taylor’s cellmate in the 23rd District lockup.
Id. ¶¶ 75–76, 78–79. As a
result, Diamond-Falk did not learn of Anderson’s
identity until after Taylor’s trial had already
concluded. Id. ¶ 78. And Diamond-Falk never
received a copy of the Foote information report, which
explained Lassiter’s relationship to Dennis Mixon.
Id. ¶ 93.
evidence was also suppressed from the SAO. Id.
¶¶ 80–88, 94. To make matters worse, the
State did not keep a record of discovery that was tendered to
defense counsel, and the only place where ASA Needham may
have kept notes about what was produced in discovery was his
“blue-back”––a piece of blue
cardboard attached to lined paper, the indictment, and the
speedy trial calendar. Id. ¶¶ 89–90.
But the SAO cannot locate the blue-back, which has apparently
been missing since 2002. Id. ¶ 91. The
SAO’s original trial file for Taylor’s criminal
case is also missing. Id. ¶ 92.
more, Taylor notes that, although Grimes and Seymore were
both disclosed as witnesses, defense counsel was never made
aware that Grimes had been manipulated into testifying
against Taylor. Id. ¶¶ 95–97.
addition, although CPD regulations required the creation and
retention of complete investigative files for homicides
resulting in convictions, the files for Taylor’s case
“allegedly cannot [be] locate[d].” Id.
¶¶ 98–103. During the investigation, the CPD
also maintained a “street file”––a
file that is not turned over to the prosecution, even if it
contains exculpatory information. Id. ¶¶
106–07. This file contained criminal trespass incident
reports for individuals with ties to Mixon and evidence
pointing to other perpetrators, as well as evidence
pertaining to Taylor’s lockup alibi, Anderson’s
identity, and the Foote information report. Id.
¶¶ 109–10, 112.
to the Officer Defendants’ version of events, Taylor
states that Diamond-Falk diligently pursued this suppressed
evidence. In 1993, he issued a formal discovery motion to the
State; when he received a response that the State was not
aware of any evidence or witnesses favorable to the defense,
he believed he had the right to rely upon the State to
fulfill its constitutional obligation. Id. ¶
113. Nevertheless, he separately issued a subpoena to the CPD
for lockup records from the 23rd District for November 14
through 17, 1992, but received no response. Id.
¶ 115. Furthermore, according to Taylor, his attorney
could not have discussed the case with the
co-defendants’ attorneys without running afoul of his
ethical obligations. Id. ¶ 117. Accordingly,
Diamond-Falk and Rubin used what information they had at
trial to attempt to corroborate Taylor’s alibi.
Id. ¶ 119. When Meindl made a “passing
reference” to a “lockup intake report” at
trial, Rubin did not know whether such a report actually
existed, because it had not been produced during discovery.
criminal case proceeded to trial on September 1, 1995.
Id. ¶ 121. Villardita, Johnson, Killacky, and
Glinski testified against him. Id. Taylor was
convicted on September 7, 1995, and sentenced to mandatory
life without the possibility of parole on November 1, 1995.
Id. Eventually, after years of post-conviction
proceedings and a reinvestigation of the case by the SAO, he
was granted a Certificate of Innocence on January 23, 2014.
Id. ¶¶ 122–24.
This Lawsuit and ...