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Wilson v. City of Chicago

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

July 14, 2014

LYNETTE WILSON, individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of Raul Adan Barriera, deceased, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, et al., Defendants-Appellees

Argued: April 10, 2014.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 07 C 1682 -- Joan Humphrey Lefkow, Judge.

For LYNETTE WILSON, individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of RAUL ADAN BARRIERA, deceased, Plaintiff - Appellant: Brendan Shiller, Attorney, Shiller Preyar, Chicago, IL.

For CITY OF CHICAGO, a Municipal corporation, Defendant - Appellee: Jonathon D. Byrer, Attorney, City of Chicago Law Department, Chicago, IL.

For ANDREW HURMAN, Officer, Defendant - Appellee: Jonathon D. Byrer, Attorney, City of Chicago Law Department, Appeals Division, Chicago, IL.

For DAVID CUMMENS, Officer, Defendant - Appellee: Jonathon D. Byrer, Attorney, City of Chicago Law Department, Appeals Division, Chicago, IL.

For DON JEROME, Officer, Defendant - Appellee: Jonathon D. Byrer, Attorney, City of Chicago Law Department, Appeals Division, Chicago, IL.

Before CUDAHY and EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judges, and LAWRENCE, District Judge.[*]

OPINION

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Lawrence, District Judge.

This case arises out of the fatal shooting of Raul Barriera by a Chicago police officer. Barriera's mother, Lynette Wilson, filed suit on behalf of herself and Barriera's estate against the City of Chicago and the officers who were present at the scene: Andrew Hurman, David Cummens, and Donald Jerome. Wilson ultimately asserted the following claims at trial: (1) a claim against the police officers pursuant to § 1983 for excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) a claim for wrongful death against the police officers pursuant to Illinois law; (3) a claim under the Illinois Survival Statute against the police officers; and (4) a claim that the City was liable for the torts of the officers under the theory of respondeat superior . The jury found in favor of the defendants on each of Wilson's claims, and the district court denied Wilson's motions for a new trial and for judgment as a matter of law.[1] Wilson now appeals, asserting that the trial court made several incorrect evidentiary rulings and erred in various respects regarding the manner in which it instructed the jury. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

On the morning of February 28, 2007, Barriera barricaded himself in his bedroom. Barriera, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia three years earlier, had not been taking his medicine regularly, and his mother feared he might harm himself. When the efforts of his mother, grandmother, and brother to convince him to leave his room were unsuccessful, Wilson called 911 for assistance.

When paramedics and firefighters arrived, Wilson explained her fear that Barriera might be suicidal because he was not taking his medication. After unsuccessfully trying to coax Barriera out of his room, a firefighter attempted to open the bedroom door and found that something was blocking it; with some effort he was able to open it enough to observe Barriera holding a hunting knife and moving around the room. The firefighter called for police assistance and held the door closed until officers arrived.

Defendants Hurman and Cummens arrived a few minutes later. The parties disagree regarding how events unfolded next, but we must view the evidence in the light that supports the jury's verdict. Common v. City of Chicago, 661 F.3d 940, 942 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Matthews v. Wisconsin Energy Corp., Inc., 642 F.3d 565, 567 (7th Cir. 2011)). The officers worked for several minutes to persuade Barriera to leave his room, but were unsuccessful. A short time later, Jerome arrived. He deployed his taser through the partially open bedroom door, hitting Barriera as he stood about seven feet from the door. Barriera removed the taser prongs from his chest. About thirty seconds later, he lunged at the officers with the knife in his hand. Fearing for their lives, Jerome deployed the taser and Hurman fired two shots from his weapon. Barriera was struck by the taser prongs and both bullets. The officers entered the bedroom, knocked the knife from Barriera's hand, and handcuffed him so he could be transported

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to the hospital. Barriera later died from the ...


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