A federal court judge has dismissed a suit claiming an Evanston police officer falsely arrested a black teenager he briefly detained as a burglary suspect 18 months ago.

Magistrate Judge Daniel Martin granted Officer Mark Buell’s motion for summary judgment in the case Feb. 26. An attorney for the teen filed notice Wednesday he plans to appeal the dismissal order.

The incident that gave rise to the suit happened Aug. 30, 2012, when a woman called police to report that she’d found a burglar in her home and told a dispatcher he was a “young boy, African-American, [wearing] cargo kahaki shorts, dark brown T-shirt or [a] dark shirt.”

As officers swarmed the south Evanston neighborhood looking for the suspect, the attention of several officers was drawn to 13-year-old Diwani Greenwell who was wearing cargo shorts as he rode his bike to his home nearby. Greenwell ultimately was stopped by Officer Buell in the alley behind his home.

In his 33-page decision, Judge Martin ruled that Buell had reasonable suspicion to detain Greenwell, based on the descriptions of the burglar that were available to him at the time — seven minutes after the first report was broadcast.

The judge also dismissed claims that Buell engaged in racial profiling when he stopped Greenwell and concluded that the officer’s decision to handcuff Greenwell was reasonable under the circumstances.

Related document

Thompson v. Buell summary judgment order

Related stories

Videos used to explain handcuffing of youth (11/6/12)

Internal probe clears cop in ‘racial profiling’ incident (11/3/12)

City dropped from police-stop lawsuit (11/2/12)

Lawsuit filed in police stop of 13-year-old (9/25/12)

Aldermen apologize to parents of kid cops cuffed (9/6/12)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Not a shock the judge ruled

    Not a shock the judge ruled in favor of a police officer doing his job according to the laws of the land, and seeing this frivolous, attention seeking lawsuit for what it really was. When should we expect the aldermen's apology to Officer Buell and the Evanston Police Department?

    1. Shouldn’t NU prof also apologize?

      Maybe an apology from Northwestern journalist professor Ava Thompson Greenwell is in order.

      1. Yes, but…
        Ava Thompson Greenwell is most likely an activist. And as such she uses her academia prowess to most likely promote an agenda. The scary thing is, she is a Journalism professor and is exposed to young college students. What a nice environment to indoctrinate our youth… but then again this has been occuring on college campuses for decades.

        She should never have entered into the arena of this controversy and her actions reflect poor judgement, and ideological partisanship and a looking glass perhaps into her real intentions as a professor of Journalism. Shame.

  2. But did they ever catch the burglar?

    It was obviously a frivolous lawsuit.

    However, the question remains: did the police ever find the person who actually committed the crime?

    While Buell and his partners were out chasing the Greenwell kid, the actual burglar was running free.  The police should be evaluated on how successfully they solve crimes.  What happened in this case?


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