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Rebolledo v. Eden

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 31, 2014

TERRY EDEN in his individual capacity, and THOMAS KOPPEL in his individual capacity, Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For JACK REBOLLEDO, Plaintiff: Scott Leroy Barnhart, KEFFER BARNHART LLP, Indianapolis, IN.

For TERRY EDEN, in his individual capacity, THOMAS KOPPEL, in his individual capacity, Defendants: Amanda J. Griffith, Office of Corporation Counsel, Indianapolis, IN; Andrew R. Duncan, Edward J. Merchant, John F. Kautzman, RUCKELSHAUS KAUTZMAN BLACKWELL BEMIS & HASBROOK, Indianapolis, IN; Beth Ann Garrison, OFFICE OF CORPORATION COUNSEL, CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, Indianapolis, IN.


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SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana.


This cause is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 40] filed by Defendants Terry Eden and Thomas Koppel on June 21, 2013, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons detailed in this entry, Defendants' motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

Factual Background

In December 2009, Plaintiff Jack Rebolledo was an officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), a member of the Indiana National Guard, and an owner of nine firearms, some of which were issued by the IMPD. On Saturday, December 4, 2009, Rebolledo was stationed in South Bend, Indiana, for National Guard drills when he received a " disturbing phone call" from his girlfriend, Shelly Korous, who was at their home in Indianapolis. (Rebolledo Dep., Dkt. 44-1 at ECF p. 15.) Ms. Korous had recently suffered a miscarriage and sadly also been diagnosed with cancer. (Korous Aff., Dkt. 44-4 at ¶ 5.) According to Rebolledo, Ms. Korous was " distraught," saying " she saw no reason to live, she just wanted to die." (Rebolledo Dep., Dkt. 44-1 at ECF pp. 15-16.) Concerned for her safety, and unable to reach her family, Rebolledo phoned his friend and fellow IMPD officer Norine Cooper to ask her to visit the home and check on Ms. Korous. ( Id. at ECF pp. 16-17.)

What exactly Rebolledo told Officer Cooper remains in dispute. Officer Cooper testified that Rebolledo told her that Ms. Korous " was threatening suicide and had said, 'I have your gun and I'm going to end it all.'" (Cooper Aff., Dkt. 41-4 at ¶ 5.) Defendant Terry Eden, a Lieutenant with the IMPD, testified that Sgt. Rhonda Reynolds relayed to him that Korous had told Rebolledo " that she was sitting on her bed holding a gun to her head." (Eden Dep., Dkt. 41-2 at ECF pp. 2-3.)[1] Rebolledo maintains that he told Officer Cooper that Ms. Korous " was having a hard time with some medical problems, she was very distraught, I was concerned for her safety and welfare." (Rebelledo Dep., Dkt. 44-1 at ECF pp. 16-17.) He adds that he " may have said that she threatened to get my gun. Shelly said something about getting my gun." ( Id. at ECF p. 19.)[2] Ms. Korous

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maintains that she was never in possession of a gun on December 4 and never told Rebolledo or anyone else that was holding a gun to her head. (Korous Aff., Dkt. 44-4 at ¶ 6.)

After phoning Officer Cooper, Rebelledo spoke by phone with Sgt. David Wisneski. (Wisneski Aff., Dkt. 41-7 at ¶ 5; Rebolledo Dep., Dkt. 44-1 at ECF pp. 17-18.) Sgt. Wisneski had learned of Ms. Korous's condition, and Rebelledo expressed concern about leaving her home alone with access to his firearms--particularly because the lock on his gun safe was not operational. (Wisneski Aff., Dkt. 41-7 at ¶ 5; Rebolledo Dep., Dkt. 44-1 at ECF pp. 17-18.) Rebolledo requested that Sgt. Wisneski go to the house, collect all his firearms, and keep them safe until Rebelledo returned to Indianapolis the following day. (Rebolledo Dep., Dkt. 44-1 at ECF pp. 17-18; Wisneski Aff., Dkt. 41-7 at ¶ ¶ 6-7.) Sgt. Wisneski did as Rebolledo asked: He visited the home, collected Rebolledo's seven personal firearms, placed them in the trunk of his patrol car, and agreed to return them to Rebolledo on December 5. (Wisneski Aff., Dkt. 41-7 at ¶ ¶ 6-9, 12-13.)

December 4 was not the first time police had been summoned to the Rebolledo-Korous residence. On March 28, 2010, Officer Cooper and other IMPD officers previously visited the home to investigate after Ms. Korous had discharged one of Rebelledo's firearms inside the house. (Cooper Aff., Dkt. 41-4 at ECF p. 5.) According to Officer Cooper, Ms. Korous discharged the weapon in the course of a domestic dispute. ( Id. at ECF ¶ 7.) Ms. Korous maintains that she discharged the weapon accidentally while trying to unload it and denies that this took place during a domestic dispute. (Korous Aff., Dkt. 44-4 at ¶ ¶ 3-4.)

After observing Ms. Korous's mental condition on December 4, and remembering that she had discharged a gun in the home some nine months prior, Officer Cooper placed Ms. Korous " under an immediate detention hold and personally transported her to Community Hospital East." (Cooper Aff., Dkt. 41-4 at ¶ ¶ 8-9.) Ms. Korous met with a variety of mental health practitioners and was discharged after only a brief stay. (Korous Aff., Dkt. 44-4 at ¶ ¶ 10-11.)

Rebelledo returned home from his National Guard drill at approximately 7:00 P.M. on December 5, while Ms. Korous was still at work. (Rebolledo Dep., Dkt. 44-1 at ECF p. 20.) In an attempt to terminate his relationship with Ms. Korous, Rebelledo undertook to change the locks on the exterior doors and began to place her personal effects in the yard. ( Id.) When Ms. Korous returned home from her shift around 7:30, the couple became engaged in a loud, verbal argument lasting approximately ten to fifteen minutes. ( Id. at ECF pp. 21-22; Korous Aff., Dkt. 44-4 at ¶ ¶ 13-15.) The couple's four children were home at that time and could hear the argument. (Rebolledo Dep., Dkt. 44-1 at ECF p.22.) Someone (either Ms. Korous or Rebolledo's children) notified Rebolledo's ex-wife who was the mother of his children of the argument, and she phoned the IMPD. ( See O'Connor Aff., Dkt. 41-5 at ¶ 8, ECF pp. 5-6.)

When IMPD Officer Michael O'Connor arrived at the Rebolledo-Korous home shortly after 8:00 P.M., " there was no active disturbance evident." (Police Report, Dkt. 41-5 at 6.) According to O'Connor, both parties denied that there had been

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any physical violence, and " there were no visible signs of any injury to either party." ( Id.) Lt. Eden, who had been notified of the incident, set out to go to the residence but resumed his patrol after receiving O'Connor's all clear assessment by radio. (Eden Dep., Dkt. 44-5 at ECF pp. 11-12, Dkt. 44-6 at ECF p. 1.) Lt. Eden was informed that, to de-escalate the situation, Rebolledo had agreed to leave the home and stay with relatives in Chicago, but he wished to take a shotgun with him. (Eden Dep., Dkt. 44-6 at ECF p. 1.) Lt. Eden approved this plan pending confirmation from Chicago police that Rebolledo would not be violating local law by taking a shotgun with him into the city. ( Id. at ECF pp. 1-2.)

Meanwhile, Sgt. Wisneski who had begun his shift was driving toward the Rebolledo residence to return Rebolledo's firearms, as he had agreed to do the night before. (Wisneski Dep., Dkt. No. 41-7 at ¶ ¶ 14-15.) After learning via his in-car computer that officers were present at the Rebolledo-Korous home, he decided to consult with Defendant Koppel, an IMPD Commander, about the advisability of returning Rebolledo's firearms. ( Id.) Cmdr. Koppel instructed Sgt. Wisneski to speak with Lt. Eden, whom Koppel assumed had been or would be on the scene, before releasing any weapons to Rebolledo. (Koppel Dep., Dkt. 44-9 at ECF pp. 11-12.) Sgt. Wisneski relayed these instructions to Lt. Eden, and Lt. Eden consulted with Cmdr. Koppel before proceeding to the residence. ( Id. at ECF p. 12.; Eden Dep., Dkt. 44-6 at ECF pp. 5-7.)

The events that occurred when Lt. Eden arrived on the scene are in substantial dispute. According to Lt. Eden, he first spoke with Rebolledo, who showed him text messages Ms. Korous and her father had sent to him the night before to explain his reason for locking Ms. Korous out of the house. (Eden Dep., Dkt. 44-6 at ECF pp. 7-9.) Next, Lt. Eden spoke with Ms. Korous, who told him that Rebolledo suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)[3] that he had not been taking his prescribed medications, and that she feared he might hurt himself if he regained possession of his firearms that evening. ( Id. at ECF pp. 9-10.) Ms. Korous clarified, however, that she was not afraid that Rebolledo would hurt her and that he had not expressed any suicidal thoughts. ( Id. at ECF p. 10.) Lt. Eden testified that he felt some confusion or doubt about the veracity Ms. Korous's statements but regarded them as cause for concern, especially considering that he knew of the incident that had taken place the night before and the fact that the lock on Rebolledo's gun-safe was inoperable. ( Id. at ECF pp. 10-11.)

Ms. Korous offers a markedly different account. She claims that Lt. Eden spoke with her upon arriving at the scene and that their conversation lasted between 30 and 45 minutes. (Korous Aff., Dkt. 44-4 at ¶ 17.) She told Lt. Eden that Rebolledo was mentally stable and that he had never physically abused their children or his ex-wife. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 19-21.) Ms. Korous claims she never spoke with Lt. Eden about PTSD or medications. ( Id. at ΒΆ 23.) She also claims that she had no concerns about Rebolledo presenting a threat to her, to himself, or to their children, even if he regained possession of his weapons that night, and ...

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