FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2016
Contact: Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
305.670.1101 Ext. 1023
QPWB GETS DEFENSE VERDICT FOR CHICAGO POLICE ON EXCESSIVE FORCE ALLEGATION
Civil Litigation – Municipalities and Public Officials
CHICAGO ― Michael B. Cohen, a partner in the Chicago office of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., co-chaired a jury trial receiving a defense verdict on behalf of two Chicago Police Department officers against a plaintiff alleging constitutional violations, inclusive of excessive force and false arrest. The case was tried before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division before an eight-person jury.
The case involved the execution of a search warrant in a single resident occupancy building on the south-side of Chicago by one of the Chicago Police Department’s tactical teams. The building was fortified with extra steel doors and gates. In order to gain entrance to the building without alerting the target of the search warrant, the tactical team employed a ruse. Two uniformed police officers informed the plaintiff, the building’s security guard and the brother of the target of the search warrant, that they were responding to a call for a domestic disturbance. Once the uniformed officers gained entry to the fortified building, one of the uniformed officers left the building to let the tactical team into the building while the other uniformed officer handcuffed the plaintiff. When the tactical team entered the building, they realized that the hallway door which led to their target was locked and that the keys to the locked door were on the plaintiff’s belt. A member of the tactical team twice requested that the plaintiff unlock the hallway door, which he failed to do. When the officer reached for the keys hanging from the plaintiff’s belt and the plaintiff turned away from the officer’s grasp, the officer arrested him for violating Illinois’ obstruction of a peace officer statute.
The plaintiff alleged that the defendant police officers falsely arrested him for obstructing them and that one of the officers used excessive force against him, causing damage to his arm. The plaintiff also alleged that each of the officers failed to intervene to prevent the other officer’s unconstitutional acts. At trial, the jury found for the defendant police officers on plaintiff’s excessive force and failure to intervene claims. The jury also found in favor of one of the defendants on plaintiff’s false arrest claim. As to his false arrest claim against the other defendant, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded the plaintiff only $1,000 in compensatory damages, rejecting the plaintiff’s request for punitive damages.