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Gill v. City of Milwaukee

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 7, 2017

Eddie Gill, Plaintiff-Appellant,
City of Milwaukee, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued January 11, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. 2:15-cv-00587-RTR - Rudolph T. Randa, Judge.

          Before Bauer, Flaum, and Easterbrook, Circuit Judges.

          Bauer, Circuit Judge.

         In February 2013, Eddie Gill confessed to and was charged with the murder of Jordin Crawley. Gill spent just over a year in jail awaiting trial. The charges were dropped, however, after a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge suppressed Gill's confession. Gill then filed a series of federal and state law claims in federal district court against the City of Milwaukee, Chief of Police Edward Flynn, and six Milwaukee police detectives. The district court entered judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) in favor of Defendants on all of Gill's federal claims and dismissed the state law claims without prejudice. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On February 3, 2013, Jordin Crawley was shot and killed while standing in a crowd outside a club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, just after it had closed for the night. Gill exited the club as it was closing and crossed the street to greet a group of friends that he saw at a gas station. After a couple minutes, Gill and the group walked back towards the crowd of people outside the club. Just then, multiple gunshots were fired, killing Crawley and wounding another man.

         In the days that followed the shooting, Milwaukee Police detectives collected security video footage from the area and interviewed approximately 20 witnesses. One of the witnesses identified Gill from the video footage of the gas station parking lot. Detective Mark Peterson spoke with Gill on the phone and spoke with his mother in person. Gill's mother explained to Peterson that Gill had cognitive impairments. At approximately 7:30 p.m. on February 12, 2013, Gill voluntarily came to the police station to be interviewed.

         Detectives Timothy Graham and Erik Gulbrandson conducted the initial interview. Gill's complaint states that the detectives knew of Gill's intellectual disability prior to the interview, and that it was also apparent through his behavior and answers. During the interview, Gill made multiple statements that were disproved by the video footage, including the number of people he was with and where he was standing when the shooting occurred. Based on those statements, the detectives arrested Gill for obstruction and immediately read Gill his Miranda rights. Gill requested a lawyer, and the detectives ended the interview.

         As the detectives transported him to booking, Gill said that he wanted to take a polygraph test and that he wished to waive his right to a lawyer in order to do so. The next morning, Detective James Hensley retrieved Gill from his cell to take the polygraph test. Hensley reiterated that Gill could not take the polygraph without a lawyer present, unless he was willing to waive his right to a lawyer. Gill's complaint states that he interpreted this to mean either that he could take a polygraph without a lawyer or that he could not take one at all. Still, Gill stated that he understood his Miranda rights and chose to proceed with the polygraph without a lawyer present. He denied any involvement with the shooting during the examination, which lasted over six hours.

         After the polygraph, Detectives Hensley and Billy Ball took Gill to another room and continued interrogating him. The detectives again read Gill his Miranda rights, which he waived. Throughout this interrogation, which lasted five more hours, Gill continued to maintain his innocence.

         The next morning, February 14, 2013, Hensley began interrogating Gill once again. Gill initially stated that he wanted a lawyer, but Hensley convinced him to waive his rights and continue with the interrogation. Hensley employed several interrogation techniques, including social isolation, confrontation, theme development, and minimization. He also falsely stated that Gill had been identified as the shooter by an eyewitness, and that Gill had failed his polygraph test. During the course of this interrogation, Gill professed his innocence more than 140 times, but eventually confessed to the shooting. He was charged with first degree reckless homicide and remained in jail.

         Gill filed a motion to suppress his confession, which the trial court granted on February 24, 2014. The court specifically noted that Gill was "functionally illiterate, " that he had previously been found incompetent to stand trial for a different crime, and that his mother had advised Hensley of his intellectual disability. In light of those facts and the "stressful" interrogations, the court held that his confession was involuntary and inadmissible. As a result, the charges were dismissed on March 13, 2014.

         Gill then filed this case in the district court, bringing federal claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as supplemental state law claims. He brought claims against each of the individual detectives for violations of his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, a claim for false arrest, and a claim for concealment of favorable evidence. He also brought claims for conspiracy and failure to intervene, corresponding to each of those claims. Finally, he brought claims against Chief of Police Edward Flynn for supervisory liability, and against the City of Milwaukee for municipal liability. In two written opinions, the district court entered judgment in favor of Defendants on all of the federal claims ...

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