SCOTUS rejects Evansville SWAT raid, death penalty appeals

A 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the city of Evansville for a bungled SWAT raid will stand, as will the death sentence of a Gary man convicted in the 2007 shooting deaths of his wife and two stepchildren. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear those appeals Monday.

Justices denied certiorari in Billy Bolin, et al. v. Louise Milan, 15-566, and in Kevin C. Isom v. Indiana, 15-533, after conferencing on the petitions Feb. 19.

Louise Milan sued Billy Bolin, the Evansville chief of police, the city and others after a SWAT team sent a phalanx of armored, flash-bang tossing officers smashing through her open, glass front door, after which no arrests were made. Officers were looking for the source of Internet police threats, but the 7th Circuit ruled in a scathing August opinion that Evansville was not shielded from an excessive force lawsuit, calling the lack of investigation and evidence before the raid of Milan’s home “a failure of responsible police practice.” After the raid on Milan’s home, a suspect a few doors down was asked to come to the police station the next day, where he was arrested.

Evansville’s petition asked justices to review whether the 7th Circuit erred in denying qualified immunity to police by finding use of flash-bang grenades unreasonable. The city argued police were executing a warrant “to prevent a potential mass murder,” and that the use of flash-bangs “was necessary for their safety.”  

In the other Indiana case, Kevin Isom sought appeal on the question of whether in imposing the death penalty, a unanimous jury must find beyond a reasonable doubt that aggravating factors outweigh mitigating factors. Isom’s death penalty was imposed after he was convicted of killing at close range his wife, Cassandra, stepdaughter Ci’Andria Cole, 13, and stepson Michael Moore, 16.

The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed Isom’s death sentence in 2015. The court found the nature of the crimes made the death penalty handed down by a Lake County jury appropriate. Isom is one of 13 people on Indiana’s Death Row at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. The last execution in Indiana was in 2009.

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