Court dismisses most claims in lawsuit against city, former police chief


Two Evanston Police Department vehicles on the road.

Evanston Police Department vehicles. On Tuesday, most claims against former EPD Police Chief Demitrous Cook and the city of Evanston were dismissed.

Isabel Funk, Summer Editor

A district court dismissed multiple claims from a February 2020 lawsuit filed against former Chief of Police Demitrous Cook of the Evanston Police Department and the city of Evanston on Tuesday.

Evanston resident Kevin Logan filed the lawsuit in February 2020 after Cook posted mugshots of more than 30 EPD suspects to his public Snapchat story earlier that month. One of the photos showed Logan’s mugshot, with his date of birth, last known address and a handwritten note reading “HIV.”

Cook removed the posts and issued a public apology the same month, stating he took the images to assist in an investigation and did not realize images taken on Snapchat could be publicized with a single click. Former City Manager Erika Storlie suspended Cook for three days following the incident. 

EPD has policies limiting use of social media and cell phones, but these policies have exceptions if approved by the police chief.

Logan took an HIV test and was negative days after the incident, but he said the post harmed his reputation by implying he was HIV-positive and resulted in online harassment.

Logan, who is Black, also argued Cook violated his equal protection rights — by discriminating against him based on race — and his due process rights by violating his privacy.

Cook and the city filed motions for summary judgment against Logan’s claims, meaning that, if granted, the facts are not sufficiently in dispute to warrant trial.

The court ruled Cook is entitled to summary judgment against the claims of defamation and racial discrimination.

“Although Cook only published photos of Black men, the undisputed facts show that this was because all of the men under investigation in the particular case were Black,” the memorandum opinion read.

Cook sought to dismiss the due process claim under the argument that because Logan was not HIV-positive, Cook did not disclose private information. The court found this defense to be a “Catch-22” and did not dismiss the claim.

Evanston filed a motion for summary judgment against all of Logan’s claims, arguing that Logan cannot establish the city’s liability. But the court denied the request, saying there is genuine factual dispute as to whether Cook was acting as “a person with final policymaking authority,” which could make the city liable.

The court granted Evanston summary judgment against the equal protection claim, for the same reasons as those for Cook. The court also dismissed Logan’s claim of violation of the Fourth Amendment, however it did not dismiss Logan’s due process claim against the city.

In April 2021, City Council approved a $90,000 settlement to end a separate class-action lawsuit filed against Cook, who retired from EPD in June 2021, for the same incident.

A status hearing is scheduled for July 5 to set a trial date and discuss possible settlement.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @isabeldfunk

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