Judge dissents on qualified immunity issue

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Judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed as to whether law enforcement officers were entitled to qualified immunity for their use of flash-bang devices in attempting to remove a suicidal man from his home.

In the Estate of Rudy Escobedo (deceased) v. Martin Bender, et al., No. 08-2365, dissenting Judge Daniel Manion didn't think the defendants' use of flash-bang devices obviously violated Rudy Escobedo's constitutional rights. Escobedo called 9-1-1 saying he was high and suicidal, and that he had a gun, but he never threatened to hurt anyone but himself. Law enforcement officers, the crisis response team, and emergency response team went to his apartment. Protocol in dealing with this type of situation wasn't followed and after several hours, the response teams fired in excessive amounts of tear gas to try to force Escobedo out of his apartment. When that didn't work, they forced their way in and threw one flash-bang grenade device into the apartment. They then threw a flash-bang device into a bedroom where Escobedo was. It exploded so close to his head that it may have rendered Escobedo blind and deaf when he was shot by police when they entered the room. He died from the shooting.

Escobedo's estate filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 against many of the law enforcement officers involved. The District Court denied some of the defendants' motion for summary judgment with respect to their use of the tear gas and flash-bang grenade devices. The District Court held those officers weren't entitled to qualified immunity.

Judge Michael Kanne, and Judge Virginia M. Kendall - District judge for the Northern District of Illinois who was sitting by designation - affirmed the lower court's ruling. They determined that on the date of the incident, the defendants were properly on notice that the use of tear gas and flash-bang devices in a closely analogous context was deemed unreasonable. The state of the law at the time of the incident gave the defendants fair warning that their treatment of Escobedo was unconstitutional, wrote Judge Kendall.

"Based on the facts as presented to us in the record and taking them in the light most favorable to the Estate, we find that Defendants' actions in deploying an excess amount of tear gas to extricate Escobedo, a non-threatening, non-violent, non-resisting individual, from his apartment violated a clearly established right and therefore the Defendants are not protected by qualified immunity," she wrote.

The majority also relied on previous caselaw to find the officers used unreasonable force with their use of the flash-bang devices.

Judge Manion concurred with the majority's conclusion regarding the use of the tear gas - that it wasn't protected by qualified immunity. However, he believed the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on the use of the flash-bang devices. He didn't think the cases cited by the majority separately or collectively clearly established that the defendants' conduct was unconstitutional.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.