ILNews

Judge dissents on qualified immunity issue

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
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

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Bill Satterlee is, indeed, a true jazz aficionado. Part of my legal career was spent as an associate attorney with Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso. Bill was instrumental (no pun intended) in introducing me to jazz music, thereby fostering my love for this genre. We would, occasionally, travel to Chicago on weekends and sit in on some outstanding jazz sessions at Andy's on Hubbard Street. Had it not been for Bill's love of jazz music, I never would have had the good fortune of hearing it played live at Andy's. And, most likely, I might never have begun listening to it as much as I do. Thanks, Bill.

  2. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  3. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  4. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  5. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

ADVERTISEMENT