7th Circuit reverses Southern District judge

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a decision by U.S. Judge Sarah Evans Barker in the Southern District of Indiana involving a former police officer’s claim that he was falsely arrested for murder following a shooting outside an Indianapolis bar.

The events leading up to this false arrest action took place during a 2007 New Year’s Eve celebration at Durty Nelly’s Pub & Eatery in Indianapolis, where Shannon McComas’s wife was a manger. McComas, an off-duty Indianapolis police officer, was present when a fight broke out about 3 a.m. It resulted in a shooting outside the bar near the front entrance. A security guard was shot and killed.

The Indianapolis detective being sued, Edward Brickley, responded to the police call, and the police investigation led to McComas being interviewed. His statements about what happened that night didn’t add up, and the police investigated and eventually determined he was involved in the fatal shooting and may have assisted another man who was a suspect. State prosecutors charged him with only false informing and assisting a criminal, but after police dropped the charges, McComas filed a false arrest action under 42 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

At the District level, Barker denied Brickley’s motion for summary judgment, finding that a genuine dispute existed as to whether Brickley’s actions were protected by the existence of probable cause and whether he was protected by qualified immunity.

Barker relied on the appellate rulings in Chelios v. Heavener Chelios, 520 F.3d 678 (7th Cir. 2008), and Clash v. Beatty, 77 F.3d 1045 (7th Cir. 1996), when she held that factual disputes prevented the application of qualified immunity at the summary judgment stage. But the 7th Circuit found this case is different, because the earlier decisions involved factually intensive questions about whether officers employed excessive force, and this one did not.

Looking at all the facts together, the appellate panel found that arguable probable cause existed for an arrest on the charges of assisting a criminal and false informing based on what Brickley knew at the time of the investigation.

The 7th Circuit remanded Shannon McComas v. Edward Brickley, No. 11-2138, to Barker for further proceedings.



Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  2. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

  3. (A)ll (C)riminals (L)ove (U)s is up to their old, "If it's honorable and pro-American, we're against it," nonsense. I'm not a big Pence fan but at least he's showing his patriotism which is something the left won't do.

  4. While if true this auto dealer should be held liable, where was the BMV in all of this? How is it that the dealer was able to get "clean" titles to these vehicles in order to sell them to unsuspecting consumers?

  5. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless [ ] Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. GOD BLESS THE GOVERNORS RESISTING! Count on the gutless judiciary to tie our children down and facilitate the swords being drawn across their throats. Wake Up America ...