No Malicious Prosecution Found Where Totality of the Circumstances Gave Detectives An Objectively Reasonable Belief To Support Probable Cause

January 2, 2018

The First District Appellate Court upheld summary judgment in favor of defendant police officers in a malicious prosecution case, Burrell v. Village of Sauk Village, et al., 2017 IL App (1st) 163392. Plaintiff claimed that police did not have probable cause to arrest and prosecute him for the murder of his one-month-old niece after a jury found him not guilty of criminal charges. In his civil case, the Appellate Court held that the police had sufficient evidence to substantiate probable cause for arrest and prosecution. Plaintiff had confessed to unintentionally injuring the infant, and several witnesses confirmed that Plaintiff was the only adult present at the time of the infant’s death. In addition, the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide and informed detectives that the infant’s injuries were caused by blunt force trauma which could only have been caused by an adult. The medical examiner further testified that the Plaintiff’s explanation for the injuries (that another child in the household tripped and fell while holding the infant and/or dropped a bassinet on the infant) were inconsistent with the observed injuries. Based on this evidence, the Court ruled that probable cause existed for Plaintiff’s arrest and subsequent prosecution.

Burrell v. Vill. of Sauk Village

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