United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division
Estate of William E. Williams, et al., Plaintiffs,
Indiana State Police, et al., Defendants.
Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge
Law enforcement officers from various agencies were dispatched to the residence of William Williams after his family members called 9-1-1 because they believed Mr. Williams was suicidal. When law enforcement officers arrived at Mr. Williams’ residence, they found him locked in his bathroom in a suicidal and intoxicated state, and he was threatening to kill anyone who entered. The officers made the decision to open the bathroom door and subdue Mr. Williams with two tasers. Neither of the tasers had any apparent effect on Mr. Williams. Tragically, he then advanced on one officer with at least one twelve-inch knife, which led three officers to shoot Mr. Williams. The shooting proved to be fatal. Following his death, Mr. Williams’ estate and his two sons brought this suit against the five officers who were at the scene and their respective employers.
Presently pending before the Court are four Motions for Summary Judgment filed by (1) Defendants Putnam County Sheriff Steve Fenwick and his Deputy John Chadd,  [Filing No. 75]; (2) Defendant Town of Cloverdale (“Cloverdale”), [Filing No. 80]; (3) Defendants Indiana Department of Natural Resources (“IDNR”), Indiana State Police (“ISP”), IDNR Officers Patrick Labhart and Chris Springstun, and ISP Officer Brian Thomas, [Filing No. 82]; and (4) Defendant Cloverdale Police Department Officer Charles Hallam, [Filing No. 84]. Also pending is a Motion to Strike filed by Defendants Chadd and Fenwick. For the reasons that follow, all four Motions for Summary Judgment are GRANTED and the Motion to Strike is DENIED.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant’s factual assertion can result in the movant’s fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Hampton v. Ford Motor Co., 561 F.3d 709, 713 (7th Cir. 2009). In other words, while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome determinative. Harper v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 433 F.3d 521, 525 (7th Cir. 2005). Fact disputes that are irrelevant to the legal question will not be considered. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
On summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party’s favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O’Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has “repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to scour every inch of the record for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them, ” Johnson, 325 F.3d at 898. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND EVIDENTIARY OBJECTIONS
A. Factual Background
The parties present the Court with an extensive arsenal of evidence in support of their respective positions. The following factual background focuses on the evidence that is either directly relevant to deciding the issues presented, or is otherwise necessary to provide a full narrative of the events in question. Important factual disputes are highlighted throughout, and the facts are construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, when supported by admissible evidence.
1.Mr. Williams’ Text Message to His Son and His Son’s Arrival at Mr. Williams’ Residence
On January 15, 2012, then 16-year-old Jacob Williams received a text message from his father, William Williams, which stated, “Wish you the best. Love you.” [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 5.] Concerned that his father might be contemplating suicide, Jacob, then at his Aunt Kim Williams’ house, called his 19-year-old brother Tyler and told him to go immediately to their father’s house, and then Jacob himself proceeded to the house. [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 5.] On the way to his father’s house, Jacob called 9-1-1, but before the call was complete, his phone disconnected. [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 6.]
Jacob arrived at the house without regaining contact with emergency services. Although his father’s house was locked when he arrived, Jacob was able to gain entrance through the patio door. [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 6.] Jacob broke through the locked bedroom door, and made contact with his father, who was locked in the bathroom that was connected to bedroom. [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 6.] Mr. Williams told Jacob that if Jacob “came in [the bathroom] he would kill [him].” [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 6.]
Jacob did not attempt to enter the bathroom at that time. Instead, Jacob confirmed that his father was standing up and still talking, which led Jacob to believe his father “was okay.” [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 6.] Jacob then unlocked the doors to the house. [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 6.] Around that same time, Kim and Kim’s then-boyfriend, “Dozie, ” were pulling up to the house. [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 6.] As they were arriving, the 9-1-1 dispatcher called Jacob back, and Jacob answered the call. [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 6.]
Over the course of Jacob’s conversations with the dispatcher, Jacob told her that his father was “probably going to shoot himself.” [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 6.] The dispatcher could hear Mr. Williams in the background saying, “Open that door, I’ll f***ing kill you.” [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 6.] Jacob also stated to the dispatcher that his father said that “if I open the door, he’s going to stab me.” [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 6.]
The dispatcher then radioed available law enforcement units, informing them that there was an individual threatening suicide with a gun. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 2.] Officer Chadd of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department responded to the dispatcher, requesting additional information on the suicidal individual. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 2-3.] The dispatcher informed Officer Chadd that the individual was Mr. Williams and that she overheard Mr. Williams state, “If you come through that door I will kill you.” [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 3.] Officer Hallam of the Cloverdale Police Department heard the dispatcher’s report and radioed Officer Chadd, asking if he too should respond to the call. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 3.] Officer Chadd informed Officer Hallam that he was going to respond, but Officer Hallam also proceeded to Mr. Williams’ residence. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 3.] While in route to Mr. Williams’ residence, Officer Chadd radioed the ISP for assistance, and ISP Officer Brian Thomas stated that he would head to Mr. Williams’ residence to provide assistance. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 3.]
In a subsequent call with Jacob, the dispatcher asked Jacob to go out onto the street and wave down the officers who were dispatched to the scene. [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 7.] Jacob eventually flagged down at least one officer, and he never reentered the house for the remainder of the evening. [Filing No. 77-16, at ECF p. 7.]
In the meantime, before any police officers had arrived, Kim and Dozie entered the house to try and talk to Mr. Williams. [Filing No. 77-18, at ECF p. 3.] Like Jacob, Kim communicated with Mr. Williams, but he remained locked in the bathroom. [Filing No. 77-18, at ECF p. 3.] Kim then called Pat Setty, Kim and Mr. Williams’ mother, and told her to call 9-1-1 to make sure that an ambulance was on the way to Mr. Williams’ residence. [Filing No. 77-18, at ECF p. 4.] Kim also told her mother that Mr. Williams had cut his wrists, and Ms. Setty called 9-1-1 and relayed this information to the dispatcher. [Filing No. 77-19, at ECF p. 6.] The dispatcher then informed Officers Chadd and Hallam that Mr. Williams may have cut his wrists, but that, despite earlier reports, she did not think there were firearms in the residence. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 4; Filing No. 86-9, at ECF p. 59.]
2.Law Enforcement Arrives at Mr. Williams’ Residence
Officer Hallam was the first law enforcement officer to arrive at Mr. Williams’ residence, arriving immediately after Ms. Setty. [Filing No. 77-19, at ECF p. 6-7.] Shortly thereafter, Officer Chadd arrived on the scene. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 4.] As Officer Chadd was arriving, he told the dispatcher to instruct the ambulance, which was by then parked nearby, to move closer to Mr. Williams’ residence. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 4.] He also requested that the dispatcher contact the Putnam County Sheriff Department’s negotiator, Officer Nate O’Hare, and send him to Mr. Williams’ residence, but the dispatcher responded that she was unable to reach Officer O’Hare after two attempts. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 4.] Officer Chadd entered the residence and spoke with Mr. Williams’ family members, who informed him that Mr. Williams had knives but was not believed to have any firearms. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 5.]
Officer Patrick Labhart of the IDNR heard the police radio communications and decided to assist the other officers at Mr. Williams’ residence. [Filing No. 77-27, at ECF p. 3-4.] He was the third law enforcement officer on the scene. [Filing No. 77-27, at ECF p. 4.] Officer Chadd informed Officer Labhart that Mr. Williams was barricaded in his bathroom and threatening suicide, and that Officer Chadd did not believe there were any guns in the bathroom, but that he did believe there were knives. [Filing No. 77-27, at ECF p. 4.]
Officer Chadd then decided to investigate whether the officers could see into the bathroom from an exterior window. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 5.] He went outside and located an octagonal window through which he thought he would be able see into the bathroom. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 5.] Ms. Setty helped Officers Chadd and Labhart get a stepladder from the garage so that they could see into the window. [Filing No. 77-19, at ECF p. 10.] According to Officer Labhart, he climbed the ladder while Officer Chadd was still outside with him, and Officer Labhart could see the top of someone’s head through the bathroom window. [Filing No. 77-27, at ECF p. 5.]
At this time, ISP Officer Brian Thomas arrived on the scene and was apprised of the situation. [Filing No. 77-31, at ECF p. 3.] Officer Chadd went back inside the residence, while Officer Labhart repositioned the ladder to get a better angle of vision. [Filing No. 77-27, at ECF p. 5.] When Officer Labhart climbed the ladder the second time, he stated that he could see “blood splattered” on the bathroom door and mirror. [Filing No. 77-27, at ECF p. 5.] Officer Thomas also climbed the ladder and stated that he could see blood splattered on the wall or the vanity. [Filing No. 77-31, at ECF p. 3-4.]
While the other officers were outside, Officer Hallam remained in the residence and made contact with Mr. Williams. [Filing No. 81-3, at ECF p. 3.] Officer Hallam testified that his exchange with Mr. Williams was as follows: “I approached the area and I basically said, ‘Bill, what’s going on?’ And there was a pause, and he said, ‘Who the f*** are you?’ And I said, ‘Charlie Hallam with the Cloverdale Police Department. I’m here to see what’s going on. How are you doing?’ [He responded, ] ‘Get the f*** out of here. Get the f*** out of my house. Leave me alone.’” [Filing No. 81-3, at ECF p. 3.] Mr. Williams then threatened to stab Officer Hallam or anyone else who opened the door. [Filing No. 86-9, at ECF p. 59.]
After this exchange, and as Officer Chadd was re-entering the residence, Officer Hallam radioed that Mr. Williams was becoming increasingly agitated. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 5; Filing No. 81-3, at ECF p. 4.] Officer Hallam informed the other officers and dispatch that he was going to keep his earpiece in but that the other officers were going to turn their radios down so that Mr. Williams did not hear them and become even more agitated. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 5.]
When Officer Chadd reentered the residence, he and Officer Hallam had a brief conversation with Ms. Setty, at the end of which they asked her to exit the residence. [Filing No. 77-19, at ECF p. 9.] On her way outside, Officer Thomas stopped her and said, “When the time comes that we need to get your son help, how do we open the bathroom door?” [Filing No. 77-19, at ECF p. 9.] Ms. Setty went back inside and retrieved a Q-Tip, broke one end off, and explained to Officer Thomas how he could pop the bathroom door unlocked using the broken Q-Tip. [Filing No. 77-19, at ECF p. 9.]
All of the officers then met up in the residence. [Filing No. 81-3, at ECF p. 5.] Officer Labhart reported to Officer Chadd that they saw a lot of blood inside the bathroom through the exterior window. [Filing No. 81-3, at ECF p. 5; see Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 5; Filing No. 77-27, at ECF p. 5.] The officers discussed their options of how best to proceed. [Filing No. 81-3, at ECF p. 6.] They were unsure how injured Mr. Williams was other than that he was bleeding, and none of the officers thought to ask him about the extent of his injuries at that time. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 6; Filing No. 81-3, at ECF p. 6.] During this conversation, Tyler and Officer Chris Springstun of the IDNR arrived and entered the residence. [Filing No. 81-3, at ECF p. 6.]
3.Tyler Speaks with Mr. Williams
When Tyler arrived in the residence, Officer Chadd told him to keep his voice down because “[Mr. Williams] doesn’t know we’re here.” [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 9.] Tyler told the officers he wanted to speak with his father, and Officer Chadd responded, “Go talk to him.” [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 9.] Tyler initiated a conversation with his father through the bathroom door, which Tyler did not attempt to open. [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 9-10.] The officers were approximately five to eight feet from the bedroom door, and could hear everything that both Tyler and Mr. Williams said, [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 10], but Mr. Williams had no reason to know that the officers could hear the conversation, [Filing No. 86-11, at ECF p. 94].
Tyler began by asking “what’s going on” and “why don’t you come out, ” but Mr. Williams refused. [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 10.] At the urging of Officer Chadd, Tyler asked his father what he had in the bathroom with him, and his father responded that he had knives and an injecting needle used to marinate turkeys. [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 10.] Mr. Williams also told his son that he had taken the rest of his bottle of Xanax, which Tyler thought was somewhere between twenty and forty pills. [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 10.] Mr. Williams further said that he would “kill anyone that comes through th[e] door.” [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 10.] Mr. Williams acknowledged to his son that he had cut himself and was bleeding, and commented that “[t]his is taking longer than I planned.” [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 10.] Mr. Williams continued: “This isn’t going as fast as the Internet said. Give me 30 more minutes and I’ll be done.” [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 13-14.] He asked Tyler to go get him his firearm and to bring him “one bullet.” [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 10.]
Whispering, Tyler asked the officers what he should do, and Officer Chadd told Tyler to tell Mr. Williams that he has his gun to “[s]ee if he’ll come out.” [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p.10-11.] Tyler described the subsequent events as follows:
So I came up to [my dad] and said, “Got your gun, come out and get it.” My dad said, “No. Put it underneath the door.” I told him it would not fit. He said, “I don’t believe you.” I then took my foot and kicked the door, as if I was trying to shove a gun underneath the door. I was like, “It won’t fit, ” and I was kicking the door. He says, “Where is it?” I said, “Right here.” He said, “Put it on the ground, let me see it.” I think I actually, at this time, the officers . . . had started to move into the bedroom . . . . And the one officer a couple feet back from the door put his gun down to show that . . . maybe my dad would see the gun and that there was a gun there. . . . [My dad] said he could not see it. I said, “Well, it’s right there.” The officer did not feel comfortable putting it closer to the door, so he took it back towards his possession.
[Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 11.] Tyler crouched to the floor, attempting to see where his father was located within the room or what he was doing, and Tyler could only see that his father was standing near the sink. [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 11.] According to Tyler, “It was clear from the communications with my father that he believed I was the only person in the house.” [Filing No. 101-18, at ECF p. 5.]
The officers and Tyler exited the bedroom to discuss what action should be taken. [Filing No. 101-18, at ECF p. 6.] The officers discussed the fact that Mr. Williams had cut himself, was bleeding, and had taken all of his Xanax. [Filing No. 86-11, at ECF p. 94-95.] They also knew that they could pop the bathroom door lock from the outside and that Officers Hallam and Chadd both had tasers to subdue Mr. Williams when the door opened. [Filing No. 86-11, at ECF p. 95.] Officer Chadd believed that rushing Mr. Williams was not an option because the officers “were in a confined area” such that “only one officer could enter the bathroom at the same time.” [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 7.] The officers eventually told Tyler “that they were going to pop the door open and tase [his dad].” [Filing No. 101-18, at ECF p. 6.]
4.The Officers Open the Bathroom Door and Deploy Their Tasers at Mr.Williams
The officers reentered the bedroom and positioned themselves throughout the room. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 7.] Although the precise location of each officer is unclear, [see, e.g., Filing No. 101-10, at ECF p. 26-27; Filing No. 101-14, at ECF p. 9-10], Officers Chadd and Hallam positioned themselves near the bathroom door and had their tasers drawn and aimed at the door. [Filing No. 101-18, at ECF p. 7; see also Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 7.] Officers Labhart and Springstun had their firearms drawn and aimed at the door. [Filing No. 101-18, at ECF p. 7.] Tyler was also in the room, and the officers indicated that Tyler should continue talking to his father in a loud voice. [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 15.] Either Officer Thomas or Officer Chadd used the Q-Tip provided to the officers by Ms. Setty to unlock the bathroom door from the outside. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 7; Filing No. 101-18, at ECF p. 7.] After the officer unlocked the door, that same officer flung the door open. [Filing No. 101-18, at ECF p. 7.] Through the open doorway, the officers saw Mr. Williams standing at the sink, yet slightly turned and facing the now open doorway, [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 7; Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 16], with both hands placed on the sides of the sink, [Filing No. 101-18, at ECF p. 7]. There were two large knives on top of the sink, each approximately a foot long. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 7; Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 9.] Mr. Williams was “visibly startled” when the door opened. [Filing No. 101-18, at ECF p. 7.] He turned his torso toward the door, and Officers Chadd and Hallam almost simultaneously fired their tasers at Mr. Williams. [Filing No. 101-18, at ECF p. 7-8.] At least one of the taser’s probes struck Mr. Williams, but neither taser had any apparent effect on him. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 7; Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 17 (stating that Mr. Williams exhibited “no obvious reaction to the Tasers. If they were shocking him, it didn’t seem to be noticed by him”).]
5.Mr. Williams Advances on Officer Hallam with at Least One Knife Raised, Leading to the Use of Deadly Force Against Him
After the tasers were fired, Mr. Williams grabbed at least one knife off the sink. [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 17; Filing No. 101-18, at ECF p. 8.] He exited the bathroom “slowly” in a “disoriented manner” with the knife raised above his head. [Filing No. 101-18, at ECF p. 8; see Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 17.] No words were exchanged except that at least one of the officers yelled “run” while everyone backed away from Mr. Williams. [Filing No. 101-17 at ECF p. 17.] Officer Chadd backed up while motioning Tyler to exit the bedroom. [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 17-18.]
Upon exiting the bathroom with the knife raised, Mr. Williams immediately turned to the right toward where Officer Hallam was standing and walked toward him. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 8; Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 17 (stating that Mr. Williams “focused in on . . . [Officer] Hallam”).] Mr. Williams “locked eyes” with Officer Hallam and continued to walk directly at him with the knife raised. [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 18; see Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 8.] The other officers had all backed away from Mr. Williams, and Officer Hallam continued to back up with his firearm pointed at Mr. Williams. [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 18.] Officer Hallam rounded the corners of the bed, but Mr. Williams followed him around each corner with the knife still raised. [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 18.] When Mr. Williams rounded the final corner, Officer Hallam shot at Mr. Williams but missed. [Filing No. 77-23, at ECF p. 10.] Mr. Williams continued to approach Officer Hallam, and Officer Hallam fired a second shot, hitting Mr. Williams when he was approximately three feet away from Officer Hallam. [Filing No. 77-23, at ECF p. 10.] Mr. Williams continued toward Officer Hallam. [Filing No. 77-23, at ECF p. 11.] When Officer Hallam ran out of space to continue backing, he “tripped up” and fell backwards onto the bed, and Mr. Williams fell on top of him. [Filing No. 101-17, at ECF p. 18-20.] As Mr. Williams was falling on top of Officer Hallam, Officer Hallam attempted to fire a third round, but because his firearm was pressed against Mr. Williams, his firearm jammed. [Filing No. 77-23, at ECF p. 11.] When Mr. Williams and Officer Hallam came together, Mr. Williams’ knife cut one of Officer Hallam’s fingers. [Filing No. 77-23, at ECF p. 19.] There was a brief second of separation between Mr. Williams and Officer Hallam, during which Officers Labhart and Thomas each shot Mr. Williams twice. [Filing No. 77-27, at ECF p. 11; Filing No. 77-31, at ECF p. 16.] There is no evidence that Officer Chadd or Officer Springstun shot at Mr. Williams.
After the three officers shot Mr. Williams, he collapsed on the bedroom floor. [Filing No. 77-1, at ECF p. 8; Filing No. 77-23, at ECF p. 12.] He ultimately died from the gunshot wounds. [Filing No. 77-36, at ECF p. 2.] An estimated two to four seconds elapsed from when Mr. Williams exited the bathroom to when he was shot. [See, e.g., Filing No. 77-27, at ECF p. 24; Filing No. 77-31, at ECF p. 16.]
6.Events Following Mr. Williams’ Death
Both parties present evidence regarding the investigation following Mr. Williams’ death, including statements his family members made to law enforcement and what the forensic pathologist’s investigation revealed. However, as both parties subsequently recognize in their respective briefs, such after-the-fact evidence is irrelevant to deciding whether the officers used excessive force against Mr. Williams at the time the force was used. To the extent that this evidence is relevant to analyzing Plaintiffs’ other claims, it is discussed in conjunction with those claims below.
B. Plaintiffs’ Expert Reports Are Inadmissible
Plaintiffs submit two expert reports from Brian Clouse and Dr. James Ginger in support of their claims. [Filing No. 101-4; Filing No. 101-5.] The Court need not detail the contents of these expert reports at length because, as discussed in detail below, they are inadmissible and, in any event, do not advance Plaintiffs’ claims. Nevertheless, in short, the expert reports conclude that the officers failed to follow established police protocols while handling the situation presented by Mr. Williams. For example, the experts conclude that the Responding Officers (1) failed to properly identify themselves and their purpose, [Filing No. 101-5, at ECF p. 12]; (2) failed to adequately reassure Mr. Williams, [Filing No. 101-5, at ECF p. 13]; and (3) failed to gather sufficient information about Mr. Williams’ condition, [Filing No. 101-4, at ECF p. 11]. Plaintiffs’ experts concluded that these failures, and others, contributed to Mr. Williams’ death. [See Filing No. 101-4, at ECF p. 19-20; Filing No. 101-5, at ECF p. 19-21.]
Defendants object to the reports and argue that the Court cannot consider Plaintiffs’ expert reports at all because they are unsworn. [Filing No. 115, at ECF p. 6.] It is well settled that unsworn statements, including expert reports, are inadmissible to support or oppose summary judgment. See Wittmer v. Peters, 87 F.3d 916, 917 (7th Cir. 1996) (stating that defendant’s expert reports “were unsworn, hence not affidavits, hence not, strictly speaking, admissible to support or oppose summary judgment”); Vest v. Al-Shami, 2014 WL 773231, *6 (S.D. Ind. 2014) (“Dr. Payne’s report, as originally designated as part of Plaintiff’s evidence in response to the motion for summary judgment, was unaccompanied by a sworn statement and thus inadmissible.”); Wirick v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 2010 WL 2670689, *3 (S.D. Ind. 2010) (“The [expert] report is not accompanied by any kind of sworn statement and therefore is not . . . admissible to support or oppose summary judgment.”) (citation and quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiffs implicitly admit this error by arguing that Defendants’ objection should be overruled given that Plaintiffs attached declarations to their surreply from each of their experts “authenticating the reports that were previously submitted.” [Filing No. 124, at ECF p. 4; see Filing No. 124-1; Filing No. 124-2.] As Plaintiffs’ surreply suggests, the declarations of Plaintiffs’ two experts merely authenticate the expert reports. [Filing No. 124-1, at ECF p. 1 (attesting that the ...