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Lewis v. Hite

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

May 14, 2014

JOSEPH DALE LEWIS, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD HITE, Chief of Police, AUSTIN BLACK, IMPD Detective, and CHRISTOPHER EDWARDS, IMPD Detective, Defendants.

ENTRY ON REMAINING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Richard Hite, Austin Black, and Christopher Edwards (dkt. no. 91). The motion is fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS the motion for the reasons set forth below. In light of this ruling, the Court DENIES AS MOOT Defendants' motion to strike Plaintiff's supplemental video evidence (dkt. no. 102).

I. STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court accepts as true the admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009). However, "[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial." Id. Finally, the non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and "the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment." Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).

II. BACKGROUND

The relevant facts of record, viewed in the light most favorable to Lewis, the non-moving party, are as follow.

On April 24, 2011, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Officer Christopher Edwards responded to a domestic violence and attempted rape call made by Angela Crook. After Officer Edwards arrived at Crook's home, Crook accused Lewis, her then live-in boyfriend, of punching her in the face, arms, and legs, choking her, forcefully pushing her head into a toilet, and attempting to rape her. Officer Edwards observed strangulation marks on Crook's neck and abrasions and bruises on her face, arms, legs, and torso.[1] Thereafter, officers searched the residence and found Lewis asleep in bed. Officer Edwards ultimately determined that probable cause existed to arrest Lewis. As such, Lewis was taken into custody and booked under the following charges: (1) criminal confinement as a Class D felony, (2) strangulation as a Class D felony, (3) domestic battery as a Class A misdemeanor, (4) battery as a Class A misdemeanor, (5) rape as a Class B felony, (6) domestic battery as a Class D felony and battery as a Class D felony.[2] Based on these potential charges, the court set Lewis' bond at $160, 000. During Lewis' Bond hearing on April 27, 2011, however, Crook recanted the allegations and Lewis was released. As a result of Crook's recantation, the charges stemming from the incident were dismissed. Because Lewis spent three days in jail, however, he "was fired from [his job at] Stingray Systems." Second Am. Compl. at 13.

The fallout from the event did not stop there. In April 2011, when the incident occurred, Lewis was serving a probation sentence on a charge from Tippecanoe County. Once the Tippecanoe County Court learned of the domestic violence charges, it issued a warrant for his arrest. This time, Crook recanted her recantation and testified against Lewis at his probation revocation hearing. The court ultimately revoked Lewis' probation, and he spent another six months in jail. As a result, Lewis was fired from another job.

Thereafter, on June 7, 2012, Crook contacted the IMPD and accused Lewis of harassment, invasion of privacy, and violation of a protective order.[3] During an interview with IMPD Officer Austin Black, Crook reported that Lewis had been calling her and sending her numerous text messages, some of which were threatening in nature, and she was afraid Lewis might try to harm her or kill her.[4] Crook also told Officer Black that the protective order had been served on Lewis while he was incarcerated in the Tippecanoe County Jail. After Officer Black reviewed several of the messages on Crook's phone and a copy of the protective order, he authored an affidavit for probable cause. Based on Officer Black's affidavit, Lewis was charged with invasion of privacy as a Class A misdemeanor. According to Lewis, he was arrested twice in relation to this charge: The first time he was "left... in jail for weeks, " and the second time he spent Christmas in jail. Lewis' Suppl. Br. at 1. Lewis, however, was never formally served with a copy of the protective order, and the invasion of privacy charge was dismissed. Despite this fact, Lewis' lost another job opportunity while the arrest warrant was pending.

As a result of the foregoing, Lewis filed suit against Officer Black, Officer Edwards, and IMPD Chief Rick Hite seeking damages for their violations of his civil rights.[5] Lewis alleges that Officer Black "committed perjury" in his affidavit for probable cause. As a result, he has violated 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1038 and 1621. Lewis also alleges that Detective Edwards violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 "by depriving [Lewis] of rights through a defective incomplete investigation into [domestic battery] allegations made by Angela Crook." Compl. at ¶ 36. Lastly, Lewis claims that Chief Hite "has failed to properly train and supervise" Officer Black and Officer Edwards. Id. at ¶ 44.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Officer Edwards

"Probable cause to arrest is an absolute defense to any claim under Section 1983 against police officers for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, or malicious prosecution.... This is so even where the defendant officers allegedly acted upon a malicious motive." Mustafa v. City of Chicago, 442 F.3d 544, 547 (7th Cir. 2006) (internal citations omitted). "Police officers have probable cause to arrest an individual when the facts and circumstances within their knowledge and of which they have reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient to warrant a prudent person in believing that the suspect had committed an offense." Id. (citation and quotations omitted). Additionally, "[w]hen an officer has received his information from some person- normally the putative victim or an eyewitness-who it seems reasonable to believe is telling the truth, he has probable cause to arrest the accused perpetrator." Jenkins v. Keating, 147 F.3d 577, 585 (7th Cir. 1998) (citations and quotations omitted); see also Beauchamp v. City of Noblesville, Ind., 320 F.3d 733, 743 (7th Cir. 2003) ("The complaint of a single witness or putative victim alone generally is sufficient to establish probable cause to arrest unless the complaint would lead a reasonable officer to be suspicious, in which case the officer has a further duty to investigate.") (citations omitted). "The court evaluates probable cause not on the facts as an omniscient observer would perceive them, but rather as they would have appeared to a reasonable person in the position of the arresting officer." Mustafa, 442 F.3d at 547 (citations and quotations omitted).

In this case, there was probable cause to arrest Lewis. When Officer Edwards arrived at the scene, he observed Crook outside her home, barefoot, and covered in bruises and red marks.[6] She proceeded to tell Officer Edwards that Lewis, her live-in boyfriend, had attacked her after she refused to have sex with him. Crook also reported that while Lewis was distracted, she fled the residence without shoes on and went to a neighbor's home for help. That neighbor helped her call 911. Regardless of whether Crook was telling the truth, her account, combined with her apparent injuries, was sufficient to establish probable cause. See Mustafa, 442 F.3d ...


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