When Tippecanoe Deputy Sheriff Jonathan Lendermon got between some long-feuding neighbors in 2009, one of them, Jason Findlay, suggested that he might have trespassed. It became clear to Lendermon the acknowledgement might have been recorded on video surveillance.
Lendermon attempted to obtain a memory card from the camera, but Findlay pulled it away and the memory card fell to the floor. Findlay claims that as he reached for the card, Lendermon tackled him, but Lendermon says he just grabbed Findlay’s arm to prevent him from picking it up. Findlay sued claiming excessive force, and District Judge Theresa Springmann of the Northern District of Indiana denied Lendermon’s motion to dismiss.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed on Friday. “Because Findlay has not carried his burden of showing the violation of a clearly established right, Lendermon is entitled to qualified immunity,” Judge Joel Flaum wrote for the court in Jason Findlay v. Jonathan Lendermon, 12-3881.
Lendermon arrested Findlay for obstruction of justice, but the charges were dropped. But Lendermon was within his rights under qualified immunity, the court ruled.
“Because Findlay has not identified any sufficiently analogous case clearly establishing the constitutional right he accuses Lendermon of violating, and because Findlay offers no adequate explanation for how Lendermon used force ‘so plainly excessive’,” Flaum wrote, “… we reverse the district court’s denial of Lendermon’s motion for summary judgment.”