BOGAN v. CITY OF CHICAGO (July 6, 2011)

Nicole Evans's eight-year-old son called 911 at about 2:30 a.m. to report that his mother was being beaten. When officers arrived at her apartment, a male voice swore at them from inside. They then heard a woman scream and eventually found her on the roof. She was partially dressed, mentally distraught, and physically injured. She told the police that she wanted her boyfriend arrested. The police saw the boyfriend through an apartment window and went after him. He ran to the rear of the apartment and they followed, searching every room. Other officers had arrived at the building and advised that an African-American male was on the rear porch. The officers arrived at a door which they assumed was a door to the porch. They tried to kick it in but Sharon Bogan opened the door from the inside. She identified the boyfriend as her son. Chicago police searched the apartment but did not find boyfriend. Bogan brought suit against the City of Chicago and the officers under § 1983. She alleged a Fourth Amendment violation. A jury returned a verdict for the defendants. Judge Kennelly (N.D. Ill.) denied her motion for judgment as a matter of law. Bogan appeals.

In their opinion, Circuit Judges Ripple and Hamilton and District Judge Murphy affirmed. The Court first addressed Bogan's claim that the exigent circumstances instruction was error. The district court instructed the jury that Bogan had to prove that a reasonable officer would not have believed that a crime suspect was in the apartment. The Court noted that it had never addressed that precise question. It had, however, addressed the burden of proof question with respect to consent. In Valance, the Court concluded that a defendant asserting a consent exception to a warrantless search claim has the burden of coming forward with evidence but the plaintiff still has the ultimate burden of persuasion. The Court concluded that its rationale there also applied to the exigent circumstances exception as well. The Court acknowledged that there is a split in the circuits on the question, but countered that the split has existed for some time. The Court next addressed Bogan's argument that it was error to allow one of the officers to testify regarding his subjective beliefs during the search of Evans’s apartment. The Court recognized that the exigent circumstances exception cannot be satisfied with a police officer’s subjective view. Instead, the factfinder views the totality of the circumstances as they would have appeared to a reasonable person in the officer’s position. Here, the officer's testimony simply explained his progress and decisions made during this search. The information could have been helpful to a jury in assessing the reasonableness of his actions. Finally, the Court found no error in the district court's rejection of Bogan's request for judgment as a matter of law. There was sufficient evidence in the record from which a jury could conclude that the officers reasonably believed the boyfriend was in the apartment.