United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VIRGINIA M. KENDALL, JUDGE
Tucker sued Detectives John Lally, Daniel Gillespie, and
Jacinto Gonzalez of the Chicago Police Department alleging
unlawful pretrial detention and malicious prosecution
stemming from his arrest in February 2014 for the armed
robbery and murder of John Serpe. (Dkt. 67). Tucker claims
the detectives fabricated evidence by way of improper photo
array identifications, suggestive lineup procedures, and
selective recording of witness statements. Neither party
filed dispositive motions and a jury trial occurred in
October 2019. The jury heard five days of testimony. At the
close of evidence, Defendants moved for a directed verdict on
all counts for all Defendants. (Dkt. 93). The Court heard
oral argument on the Motion and found that Plaintiff had
completely failed to establish any personal involvement on
the part of Detective Gonzalez. The Motion was taken under
advisement as to Detectives Lally and Gillespie pending the
jury's deliberation and ultimate verdict. After
deliberating, the jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff, and
against Detectives Lally and Gillespie, as to unlawful
pretrial detention and for all Defendants on the malicious
prosecution count. (Dkt. 99). The jury awarded Plaintiff
compensatory damages in the amount of $750, 000.00 and
declined to award any punitive damages. Following trial,
Defendants Lally and Gillespie filed a Renewed Motion for
Judgment as a Matter of Law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 50(b) on the grounds that a reasonable jury could
not find Detectives Lally and Gillespie lacked probable cause
or were personally involved in Plaintiff's constitutional
deprivation, and that they are entitled to qualified
immunity. For the reasons detailed within, the Court denies
both the Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and its
renewed counterpart. (Dkts. 93, 113).
February 9, 2014, John Serpe was murdered on the west side of
Chicago. Detectives Lally and Gillespie, detectives with the
Chicago Police Department, were assigned as lead detectives
for the Serpe murder. Mahagony Lewis and Monica Carter, both
eye-witnesses to the murder, eventually identified Plaintiff
as the shooter after purportedly improper, coercive, and
suggestive interview techniques. Eventually, Plaintiff was
arrested on February 16, 2014, and charged with first degree
murder and armed robbery in Cook County. The case proceeded
to a bench trial where, in May 2016, Plaintiff was found not
guilty. Plaintiff then pursued the instant federal civil
rights litigation where a jury of his peers found in his
favor on the unlawful pretrial detention count against
Defendants Lally and Gillespie, awarding him $750, 000.00.
Defendants now seek post-trial review of the jury's
decision. The following is a summary of the relevant
testimony and evidence developed at trial construed
“strictly in favor of [Plaintiff]…” as the
prevailing party. Passananti v. Cook County, 689
F.3d 655, 659 (7th Cir. 2012).
early morning hours of February 9, 2014, Monica Carter, while
working as a prostitute, was robbed at gunpoint near the West
Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago. (Dkt. 105, 4:20-5:3).
Carter testified that she did not personally know the
offender, but that she had seen him before in the
neighborhood. (Id. at 10:2-8). Afterwards, the man
who robbed her forced Carter to follow him to go and
“rob the drug dealers” near the intersection of
Monroe and Kostner or else he would shoot her. (Id.
at 5:4-6); (Dkt. 104, 160:1-2). On their way to that
intersection, the two came across a car with a “white
man and a young lady in it.” (Id. at 6:1). The
offender approached the car while at the same time holding
Carter at gun point, shot the man, and proceeded to rob
Mahagony Lewis, the female passenger. (Id. at
6:5-15; 6:18-7:10); (Dkt. 104, 160:14-18). Thereafter the
offender left the scene and Carter and Lewis went their
separate ways. (Id. at 7:9-23).
on February 9, Detectives Lally and Gillespie brought Lewis
to a police station to look at various photos. (Dkt. 104,
24:6-14). While at the station, Detective Lally showed Lewis
a photo array of six individuals (not including a photo of
Plaintiff), but Lewis was unable to identify any as the
offender. (Id. at 28: 17-19); (Dkt. 104, 150:8-13).
Lewis provided the detectives with a description of the
offender as “a male black with medium to dark skin and
tall” and that “he was wearing a black hoodie, a
black jacket that had some type of white lettering
on…black sweatpants and black shoes.” (Dkt. 103,
February 13, 2014, Carter was interviewed by Detectives Lally
and Gillespie regarding the February 9th robbery and murder.
(Dkt. 105, 14:1-15); (Dkt. 103, 19:22-25). Carter testified
that during the course of the interview Detective Lally told
her that she could be charged with murder and that her son
could be taken away from her. (Id. at 14:20-25).
Eventually Carter told Lally and the other detective
interviewing her that she knew the offender to be named
Anthony and go by the nickname “Killer.”
(Id. at 17:13-20; 18:8-14). However, she testified
that she did not, in fact, know “Killer” to be
the offender, but just gave that name because she wanted to
go home and was in heroin withdrawal. (Id. at
17:21-18:7). The detectives did not create a General Progress
Report (“GPR”) of this interaction with Carter.
(Dkt. 103, 21:1-4).
was brought back to meet with Detectives Lally and Gillespie
at a separate time and was presented with a photo array of
individuals. (Dkt. 105, 19:10-23); (Dkt. 104, 60:10-12);
(Dkt. 103, 30:9-18). Carter testified that when Detective
Lally handed her the photo array, a single photograph-that of
Plaintiff-was already circled. (Id. at 21:1-8). When
he took the witness stand, Detective Lally testified that
Carter, not he, circled the photograph of Plaintiff. (Dkt.
104, 165:2-9). She further testified that Detective Lally
told her that “this was him and to initial it, ”
which she did. (Dkt. 105, 21: 13-5; 22:3-7). The photograph
she initialed next to was of Plaintiff. (Dkt. 104, 63:17-20).
Detective Lally testified that the Chicago Police database
did not recognize the nickname “Killer” to be
associated with Plaintiff, but rather “Crip”
(short for cripple) and “Slim.” (Id. at
65:6-23). That same day, Detectives Lally and Gillespie
showed Mahagony Lewis a photo array which included Plaintiff,
but she was unable to identify any of the individuals as the
offender. (Id. at 80:19-81:2); (Dkt. 103, 34:1-13).
Detectives Lally and Gillespie conceded that Chicago Police
Department procedures required they complete a report every
time an individual is shown a photo array and that their
failure to do so was in violation of that rule. (Dkt. 104,
177:16-178:5); (Dkt. 103, 34:19-35:8).
testified she was brought back to the station on February 16,
2014, to meet with Detective Lally and observe a physical
lineup. (Dkt. 105, 23:3-10). This time, Carter testified that
Detective Lally picked her up and gave her “some money
to go get [her] drugs” before viewing the lineup.
(Id. at 23:15-24:12). Prior to entering the
observation room, a detective showed Carter a picture of
Plaintiff and was told by Detective Lally to make sure she
picks the right person. (Id. at 25:3-14; 26:1-2;
28:21-23). Carter was unable to identify the specific
detective who showed her the picture, but did note that
Detective Lally was with that detective at the time.
(Id. at 25:15-22). Detective Lally denied that he
showed Carter a single photograph of Plaintiff before she
entered the lineup room. (Dkt. 104, 186:13-16). Once in the
lineup room, Carter identified Plaintiff “because that
was the picture that [she] saw before [she] walked in.”
(Dkt. 104, 31:11-14). Detective Lally testified on direct
examination that no GPR was created for any interaction with
Monica Carter even though nearly every other person
interviewed was the subject of a GPR. (Dkt. 104, 47:14-19).
Later in the investigation, Carter would go on to identify
Plaintiff as the shooter at the grand jury because that is
“who [she] was told to say in the beginning” and
she was on drugs and did not care about the repercussions.
(Dkt. 105, 33:20-34:1). On the same day, Lewis viewed a
physical lineup with Detective Gillespie present. (Dkt. 103,
58:2-9). Ultimately, Lewis identified Plaintiff as “the
person who shot John Serpe.” (Id. at 59:8-12).
Court heard testimony from Reginald Riley, Tucker, and
Carter regarding the February 16, 2014, physical lineups.
Riley testified that he was picked up by police officers on
the morning of February 16 and eventually told he would be
participating in a physical lineup. Riley noted that he was
one of five men, including Plaintiff, in the lineup and that
when they entered the lineup room, they were each given
assigned seats. At a certain point during the lineup, Riley
testified that the men were instructed to stand up and while
the rest were standing shoulder to shoulder, Plaintiff was
told to stand apart from the remaining four. Riley told the
jury that this occurred during both of the physical lineups
that day. Plaintiff similarly told the jury that he was
specifically instructed where to sit in the lineup room and
that when it was time for all the individuals to stand, he
was made to stand separate and apart from the remaining
individuals during both lineups. To the contrary, Carter, who
viewed the physical lineup which included Riley and
Plaintiff, testified that all the men in the lineup were
standing shoulder-to-shoulder. (Dkt. 105, 89:25-90:1).
time during the investigation did the detectives attempt to
obtain a search warrant for the residence where Plaintiff was
arrested to search for a firearm or other evidence. (Dkt.
104, 11:7-12). However, Detective Lally did return to the
Lloyd residence, the location Plaintiff was arrested, the day
following Plaintiff's arrest. (Id. at 195:1-4).
While there, Detective Lally spoke with Annie Lloyd, Marvin
Lloyd, and Maurice Lloyd. (Id. at 195:13-18).
Notably, Maurice Lloyd testified that he told Detective Lally
on February 17, 2014, that Plaintiff was at the residence
from the night of February 8, 2014 through the morning of
February 9, 2014-the pertinent time frame of the Serpe
murder. While on direct testimony, Plaintiff himself
testified that he was at the Lloyd residence the entire night
and into the morning. Detective Lally, testified that Maurice
Lloyd instead told him that he could not remember one way or
another whether Plaintiff was there. (Dkt. 104, 115:11-21).
Because of this, Detective Lally only took statements and
composed a GPR for Marvin Lloyd and Annie Lloyd.
(Id. at 117:1-19). The report reflected that Marvin
and Annie told Detective Lally that Plaintiff was not present
at the time in question. (Id. at 121:10-15).
Lally testified that throughout the entirety of the
investigation, he never found any forensic or scientific
evidence connecting Plaintiff to the scene of the crime.
(Dkt. 104, 8:12-25).
judgment as a matter of law is appropriate only if “a
party has been fully heard on an issue during a jury trial
[and] …a reasonable jury would not have a legally
sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that
issue.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(1); see Thorne v. Member
Select Ins. Co.,882 F.3d 642, 644 (7th Cir. 2018). In
evaluating a Rule 50 motion, the court must “give the
nonmovant ‘the benefit of every inference' while
refraining from weighing … the credibility of evidence
and testimony.” Ruiz-Cortez v. City of
Chicago,931 F.3d 592, 601 (7th Cir. 2019) (quoting
Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n v. Costco
Wholesale Corp.,903 F.3d 618, 621 (7th Cir. 2018)). The
court views all evidence in a light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Id. Only then, if the court finds
that “no rational jury could have found for the
nonmovant” may the court grant a Rule 50 motion.
Id. In this posture the court's ...