Barnes v. City of Centralia, No. 19-1377 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Centralia’s “Rude Boyz” gang threatened a boy who witnessed a gang-related shooting. The threats were investigated by Peebles, who had arrested many Boyz and was the “go-to guy” for gang intelligence. As Peebles and Sergeant James arrested the gang members on open warrants, Barnes drove by. According to Peebles, Barnes parked and yelled epithets. Law enforcement knew that Barnes had gang connections and that the Rude Boyz used Barnes’s home. Barnes posted on Facebook: “This thirsty b**** Mike out here on the same on [sic] bulls***.” Barnes later posted: “But this b**** don’t believe that what goes around come[s] around and when you got kids of your own.” A police secretary saw the posts and texted Peebles, who felt that these were credible threats against him and his family. Sergeant James arrested Barnes for intimidation. Weeks later the state dropped those charges. Barnes sued Peebles for unlawful seizure and malicious prosecution under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that the city had an express policy or widespread practice that motivated her arrest and prosecution. Peebles and James testified Peebles made his complaint against Barnes as a private citizen. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. With no evidence Peebles acted under color of state law in his role as a witness in Barnes’s arrest and prosecution, Barnes cannot prove Peebles violated Barnes’s rights against unlawful seizure and malicious prosecution. Barnes’s submitted no evidence to support her contention that Centralia failed to train its officers in handling profanity and that her profanity was the cause of her arrest.