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No qualified immunity for officer in diabetic man's claim

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed denial of summary judgment in favor of a police officer in a diabetic man’s claims that the officer used excessive force and injured him while removing him from a car after a diabetic episode.

Police Chief Jerry Price claimed qualified immunity against the Fourth Amendment violation claim by Frank McAllister. McAllister’s blood sugar plummeted while he was driving in Burns Harbor, causing him to get into an accident with two other cars. Calls to 911 reported a possible intoxicated driver; witnesses at the crash saw McAllister staring off into space, twitching, and convulsing as Price arrived at the scene.

McAllister was unable to respond to Price’s request to turn off the car or answer what was wrong with him. Price, believing he was intoxicated, pulled McAllister out of the car, threw him to the ground, and handcuffed him. Price is trained to ask if someone who appears unwell is diabetic, but did not do so until after taking him to the ground. After this, Price found McAllister’s medical alert necklace and released the handcuffs.

McAllister suffered several injuries from the incident, including a bruised lung and a broken hip. He claimed that he wasn’t hurt from the accident.

Price filed an interlocutory appeal to the 7th Circuit once the District Court denied his summary judgment motion on the excessive force issue.

In Frank McAllister v. Jerry L. Price, in his individual capacity, No. 10-1213, the Circuit judges concluded the District Court didn’t err in finding that McAllister’s injuries were relevant to determining whether Price used excessive force or in finding a genuine issue of material fact regarding McAllister’s diabetic condition.

They also found McAllister had enough evidence to create an issue of fact on whether Price’s use of force was reasonable.

“Viewed in the light most favorable to McAllister, the evidence shows that Price ignored obvious signs of McAllister’s medical condition, pulled him out of the car, and took him to the ground with such force that McAllister’s hip was broken and his lung bruised from the force of Price’s knee in his back, not because such force was necessary but because Price was 'angry' with McAllister,” wrote Judge Joel Flaum.

Even if Price was justified in using some force to remove McAllister, using the force involved here against a non-resisting suspect could have been unreasonable given the circumstances. There are other possible interpretations of the evidence, but if believed, it’s sufficient for a jury to conclude it was excessive force, noted the judge.

The judges also concluded that Price’s conduct went beyond the bounds of McAllister’s clearly established Fourth Amendment rights and Price could have inferred his conduct was illegal based on previous cases dealing with excessive force.
 
 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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