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7th Circuit reverses Southern District judge

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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.

 

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  1. Mr. Ricker, how foolish of you to think that by complying with the law you would be ok. Don't you know that Indiana is a state that welcomes monopolies, and that Indiana's legislature is the one entity in this state that believes monopolistic practices (such as those engaged in by Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers) make Indiana a "business-friendly" state? How can you not see this????

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  4. I am in NJ & just found out that there is a judgment against me in an action by Driver's Solutions LLC in IN. I was never served with any Court pleadings, etc. and the only thing that I can find out is that they were using an old Staten Island NY address for me. I have been in NJ for over 20 years and cannot get any response from Drivers Solutions in IN. They have a different lawyer now. I need to get this vacated or stopped - it is now almost double & at 18%. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

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