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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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