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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. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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