Williams v. City of Chicago, No. 12-3249 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Williams was returning home from work late at night. He smelled smoke, saw that his neighbor’s house was on fire, and went to the porch of the burning home to rouse anyone who might be inside. Chicago police officers O’Brien and Byrne also spotted the smoke and found Williams on the porch. They arrested him on suspicion of arson. A prosecutor declined to file arson charges that night. Officers O’Brien and Byrne then charged Williams with criminal trespass, but that charge was dismissed. Williams brought suit against O’Brien and Byrne under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging false arrest in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights and against the officers and the City of Chicago under state law for malicious prosecution on the trespass charge. The district court granted the defendants’ summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded for trial. Whether there was even arguable probable cause to arrest and charge Williams depends on disputed issues of fact.