Wheeler v. Hronopoulos, No. 17-2073 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
A confidential informant told Officer Hronopoulos that Wheeler had guns in his Chicago apartment. This informant had previously given good information, so Hronopoulos drove the informant by Wheeler’s apartment to confirm the address and took the informant before a judge to testify in support of warrant applications. The judge issued warrants. That night, police executed the warrants and found guns, ammunition, and heroin. Wheeler was acquitted because the evidence did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the contraband was his. Wheeler sued the city and the officers, raising a Fourth Amendment claim for an unlawful search and arrest (42 U.S.C. 1983) and a state‐law claim for malicious prosecution. The court rejected Wheeler’s argument that the warrant was defective because the informant’s tip was hearsay, reasoning the tip was not offered to prove the truth of the matter it asserted. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. There was probable cause for the search, arrest, and prosecution via the informant’s tip. The court rejected Wheeler’s “irrational argument” that there was a disputed fact as to whether the informant existed or gave the tip at all, as waived for not having been raised below, as was Wheeler’s supposed Brady claim concerning officers’ failure to procure fingerprint evidence.