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7th Circuit affirms ruling for officers on excessive force claims

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found no reason to disturb a judgment in favor of several officers involved in a standoff and shooting death of a Fort Wayne man in 2005. Rudy Escobedo’s estate challenged the jury verdict and summary judgment for the defendants on excessive force claims.

In the early morning of July 19, 2005, Rudy Escobedo became suicidal and ingested cocaine. After calling his sisters, he called 911 to report he was suicidal. He barricaded himself in his bedroom in his 7th floor apartment in Fort Wayne. Officers tried to negotiate Escobedo out of his apartment to no avail. Eventually, a tactical team, knowing Escobedo was armed, threw several cans of tear gas into his apartment and entered his apartment. The officers threw two flash-bang devices in the apartment, with one thrown into his bedroom. The police believed Escobedo was going to shoot based on his actions in the bedroom, and two officers opened fire, killing him.

Escobedo’s estate sued the city of Fort Wayne and several of the officers involved. After a variety of motions were filed and a partial summary judgment was granted and appealed, the case went to trial on the excessive force claims, and the jury found in favor of the defendants. The District Court also granted judgment as a matter of law in favor of the defendants after the jury entered its verdict.  

Escobedo’s estate appealed on several grounds, including that the 7th Circuit should reverse the grant of judgment as a matter of law to the defendant commanders on qualified immunity grounds because the court improperly weighed evidence and concluded that Escobedo posed a threat to the public. The estate cited the 7th Circuit’s opinion involving this case from 2010 that upheld denial of qualified immunity to the defendants on their motion for summary judgment.

“However, facts emerged at trial that caused the district court to conclude that ‘the police had a much greater concern that Escobedo was an imminent threat to others,’ thus changing its conclusion on the qualified immunity question,” Judge Daniel Manion wrote. “When we affirmed the district court’s summary judgment ruling, the facts concerning the degree of danger Escobedo presented were not nearly as developed as they were after trial.”

In its 45-page opinion released Thursday, Estate of Rudy Escobedo (deceased) (Raquel Hanic, Personal Representative of Estate) v. Officer Brian Martin, et al., 11-2426, the 7th Circuit found the District Court did not improperly admit evidence unknown to the officers at the time they used force against Escobedo; that the court committed harmless error when it prohibited the estate from introducing evidence at trial of Escobedo’s death for purposes of calculating damages; there was no error in granting judgment as a matter of law on qualified immunity grounds to the defendant commanders nor to officer Scott Straub; and that the District Court did not err when it granted summary judgment in favor of officers Brian Martin and Jason Brown on the estate’s excessive force claim for shooting Escobedo.

 

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  • Poppycock!
    Where was the evidence o0f alcohol other than the testimony of the cops who backed each others story, imagine that! It is time to rein in thug cops that tell the difference between a intoxicated person and a medical issue and it is time for the courts to stop protecting these thugs that think martial law has been declared in America and that a badge is a license to break the law!

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  1. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  2. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

  3. Been on social security sense sept 2011 2massive strokes open heart surgery and serious ovarian cancer and a blood clot in my lung all in 14 months. Got a letter in may saying that i didn't qualify and it was in form like i just applied ,called social security she said it don't make sense and you are still geting a check in june and i did ,now i get a check from my part D asking for payment for july because there will be no money for my membership, call my prescription coverage part D and confirmed no check will be there.went to social security they didn't want to answer whats going on just said i should of never been on it .no one knows where this letter came from was California im in virginia and been here sense my strokes and vcu filed for my disability i was in the hospital when they did it .It's like it was a error . My ,mothers social security was being handled in that office in California my sister was dealing with it and it had my social security number because she died last year and this letter came out of the same office and it came at the same time i got the letter for my mother benefits for death and they had the same date of being typed just one was on the mail Saturday and one on Monday. . I think it's a mistake and it should been fixed instead there just getting rid of me .i never got a formal letter saying when i was being tsken off.

  4. Employers should not have racially discriminating mind set. It has huge impact on the society what the big players do or don't do in the industry. Background check is conducted just to verify whether information provided by the prospective employee is correct or not. It doesn't have any direct combination with the rejection of the employees. If there is rejection, there should be something effective and full-proof things on the table that may keep the company or the people associated with it in jeopardy.

  5. Unlike the federal judge who refused to protect me, the Virginia State Bar gave me a hearing. After the hearing, the Virginia State Bar refused to discipline me. VSB said that attacking me with the court ADA coordinator had, " all the grace and charm of a drive-by shooting." One does wonder why the VSB was able to have a hearing and come to that conclusion, but the federal judge in Indiana slammed the door of the courthouse in my face.

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