United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Civil Rights — malicious prosecution
Where, under the plaintiff’s version of events, officers had no reasonable grounds for concluding that he was anything other than a good neighbor trying to ensure his neighbors’ safety, summary judgment was improperly granted to the officers on the plaintiff’s malicious prosecution claim.
“Williams has offered evidence from which a jury could find that a reasonable person standing in the shoes of these officers could not have had ‘an honest and sound suspicion’ that he had ‘entered or remained’ within 11144 South Edbrooke without authority, as required to commit the crime of criminal trespass. See 720 ILCS 5/19-4(a)(1). Williams testified that when the officers arrived, he was banging on the front door of the burning residence in an attempt to rouse anyone inside. Williams did not enter the building. We credit Williams’s testimony on this point for purposes of summary judgment, and as explained above, Williams’s mere presence was not sufficient to extend the officers’ arguably reasonable belief that someone had entered the residence to commit arson into an ‘honest and sound suspicion’ that the someone was Williams. Nothing about this situation suggested that Williams had committed a crime or that he had any criminal intent. He was exactly where anyone would want their neighbor to be—on the porch trying to warn any occupants of the danger in the middle of the night. A jury presented with this record could conclude that a reasonable person would not have believed that Williams had committed a criminal trespass.”
Reversed and Remanded.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Norgle, J., Hamilton, J.