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7th Circuit affirms judgment for officers in diabetic man’s case

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of the City of East Chicago and police officers on an estate’s excessive force and other claims, finding the officers had reasonable suspicion that a diabetic man who was having a hypoglycemic episode was possibly intoxicated.

The estate of Jerome Clement sued the City of East Chicago, its police department and the chief of police for wrongful arrest, excessive force, failure to train police officers, and condoning the use of excessive force. Clement was a diabetic and had an episode in August 2006 while driving, in which he ended up incoherent and unresponsive in a parking lot. Police called to the scene thought he was intoxicated, as he had bloodshot eyes and they smelled alcohol in the car.

Clement did not respond to commands and gave incoherent responses, so police used mace and batons to subdue him and put him in handcuffs. While trying to handcuff Clement, he began to flail and hit his head against the payment. Police later called an ambulance after seeing blood on his face. The paramedic found his blood sugar to be low and Clement was taken to the hospital. He died of natural causes two weeks later.

During the incident, Clement wasn’t wearing a medical identification necklace or bracelet, and police didn’t check his pockets to see that he had a card noting that he was a diabetic.

The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the federal claims and remanded the state claims to state court.

In William Padula, administrator of the estate of Jerome Clement v. Timothy Leimbach, et al., No. 10-3395, the 7th Circuit panel, noting that they respectfully recognize the tragic circumstances surrounding Clement’s death, affirmed summary judgment. They found the District Court correctly concluded that the officers had probable cause to arrest Clement because they had probable cause to believe he had driven while intoxicated. The police dispatcher indicated that Clement was intoxicated and some of the officers smelled alcohol in his car. Clement had bloodshot eyes and didn’t comply with requests to get out of his car. These are similar characteristics to that of someone who is intoxicated, wrote Judge Joel Flaum. The judges also noted that Clement wasn’t wearing a medical identification necklace or bracelet that would have alerted the officers that he was diabetic.

Also, officers didn’t call an ambulance because they suspected Clement of having a medical episode, as William Padula contended, but did so because of the blood on Clement’s face.

The District Court was also correct to conclude that the officers’ use of force wasn’t excessive. There’s no evidence that police threw Clement to the ground, or used more force than necessary to control the situation and handcuff Clement. And while Padula pointed to Clement’s death, presumably as evidence of the excessive force, the coroner’s report stated Clement died of natural causes, wrote the judge.

Padula’s claims for failure to adequately train the officers and for condoning and ratifying excessive force fail because the underlying claims for wrongful arrest and excessive force also fail, wrote Judge Flaum.

The 7th Circuit affirmed the decision to remand Padula’s remaining state law claims to state court.

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  • bad trend
    Gee, I would be scared as hell now if I were diabetic. Or had a disability that might mistake a cop into thinking that I had refused one of their precious orders so now I had to be maced, tazed, and beat the crap out of until I was sufficiently punished to never make that mistake again! No need for police to respect due process is the implicit message of this. Dispense with the charges and judicial system if you think someone is refusing an order, don't pause and think, just be a meathead and just go ahead and overreact. Bad trend of this folks, bad trend. Only hope I guess is that good cops will try and rein in their own.
  • More BS
    Thug cops continue to overstep their authority and the courts keep letting them off the hook, sure Clement died of natural causes after the thug cops considered him drunk instead of having a diabetic seizure. The cops did not smell alcohol, they removed his bracelet then beat the crap out of him just for the hell of. There are so many corrupt cops that is absolutely ridiculous. We don't need to fear the criminals except the ones that wear badges and think that they are a license to break the law. Every cop on every police force in America thinks they are above the law and why not the courts keep giving them a free pass. If you ever go into a courtroom and it is your word against a cop's word don't believe that happy horse shit that absence of proof the cops word is no better than yours, BS! The court will take the word of the cop every time, because a cop wouldn't lie, would they? Not unless the mouth was moving!

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  1. Ah yes... Echoes of 1963 as a ghostly George Wallace makes his stand at the Schoolhouse door. We now know about the stand of personal belief over service to all constituents at the Carter County Clerk door. The results are the same, bigotry unable to follow the directions of the courts and the courts win. Interesting to watch the personal belief take a back seat rather than resign from a perception of local power to make the statement.

  2. An oath of office, does it override the conscience? That is the defense of overall soldier who violates higher laws, isnt it? "I was just following orders" and "I swore an oath of loyalty to der Fuhrer" etc. So this is an interesting case of swearing a false oath and then knowing that it was wrong and doing the right thing. Maybe they should chop her head off too like the "king's good servant-- but God's first" like St Thomas More. ...... We wont hold our breath waiting for the aclu or other "civil liberterians" to come to her defense since they are all arrayed on the gay side, to a man or should I say to a man and womyn?

  3. Perhaps we should also convene a panel of independent anthropological experts to study the issues surrounding this little-known branch of human sacrifice?

  4. I'm going to court the beginning of Oct. 2015 to establish visitation and request my daughters visits while she is in jail. I raised my grandchild for the first two and half years. She was born out of wedlock and the father and his adopted mother wantwd her aborted, they went as far as sueing my daughter for abortion money back 5mo. After my grandchild was born. Now because of depression and drug abuse my daughter lost custody 2 and a half years ago. Everyting went wrong in court when i went for custody my lawyer was thrown out and a replacment could only stay 45 min. The judge would not allow a postponement. So the father won. Now he is aleinating me and my daughter. No matter the amount of time spent getting help for my daughter and her doing better he runs her in the ground to the point of suicide because he wants her to be in a relationship with him. It is a sick game of using my grandchild as a pawn to make my daughter suffer for not wanting to be with him. I became the intervener in the case when my daughter first got into trouble. Because of this they gave me her visitation. Im hoping to get it again there is questions of abuse on his part and I want to make sure my grandchild is doing alright. I really dont understand how the parents have rights to walk in and do whatever they want when the refuse to stand up and raise the child at first . Why should it take two and a half years to decide you want to raise your child.The father used me so he could finish college get a job and stop paying support by getting custody. Support he was paying my daughter that I never saw.

  5. Pence said when he ordered the investigation that Indiana residents should be troubled by the allegations after the video went viral. Planned Parenthood has asked the government s top health scientists at the National Institutes of Health to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine.

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