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Pennington v. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department

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

March 6, 2015



WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

This cause is before the Court on the Defendants' motion for summary judgment (dkt. no. 32). The motion is ripe for ruling, [1] and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART the motion for the reasons set forth below.


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).


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

A. The Arrest

On September 3, 2011, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department ("IMPD") Officers Benjamin Owens and Jeffrey Terry stopped for lunch at the Dairy Queen located at 3826 English Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana. As they walked towards the restaurant, they observed Pennington sitting in the driver's seat of a parked car inhaling or "huffing" from an aerosol can of duster. Pennington had started huffing approximately one hour earlier. The officers approached Pennington's car to investigate the matter further. Officer Terry approached the driver's side of Pennington's car, and Officer Owners approached the passenger side. Officer Terry asked Pennington to step out of her car, and Pennington complied with his request. Pennington, however, was incoherent and unable to stand without support. At this time, Officer Owens reached into the car through the passenger side of the car and removed Pennington's keys from the ignition.

As Officer Terry attempted to engage in a conversation with Pennington, she quickly reentered her car and reached for the can of duster. Pennington knew that she was being arrested, and, in Pennington's own words, she "went to go grab the can of duster, " because she wanted to "use [the] duster before [she] went to jail." Dkt. No. 34-1 at 31.

As Pennington huffed more duster, the officers grabbed the can from her and once again ordered her to step out of her vehicle, but Pennington did not comply. As a result, Officer Terry, still standing on the driver's side of the vehicle, grabbed Pennington's left arm, and Officer Owens, leaning into the car from the passenger's side, grabbed her right arm. At this time, Pennington briefly blacked out. The parties differ as to what occurred next.

According to the officers, Officer Owens struggled to remove Pennington from the driver's side of the vehicle, and Officer Terry struggled to remove her from the passenger's side. Pennington, however, immediately began struggling with them, flailing her arms, and resisting their attempts at removing her from the car. She lunged toward the passenger side of the car, which was cluttered with various unknown items.[2] When this happened, she broke free from Officer Terry's grip. Pennington also reportedly struck Officer Owens and attempted to bite him. Officer Owens then broke contact with Pennington and warned her that if she did not stop resisting, he would use his taser. Because Pennington did not comply with Pennington's warnings, he deployed his taser, which produced an approximate 5-second shock. Pennington, however, continued to move around inside her vehicle and resist arrest. Officer Owens warned Pennington that if she did not stop resisting, he would tase her again. Pennington continued to resist, and Officer Owens deployed his taser a second time. At that time, Pennington finally stopped resisting and complied with the officers' orders. She was thereafter handcuffed and placed under arrest without any further incident.

According to Pennington, however, when she came to from her black out, she "had an officer on each end." Id. at 33. She further described the incident as follows:

[T]he officer that was on the passenger's side, he was just grabbing me and yanking me, like ripping me by the arm. And he just kept tugging and tugging and tugging, and... I told him, ... "Stop, you're breaking my arm. Stop, you're hurting me."
And at the same time the officer had me from the other side in the driver's door, and... I remember him yelling and I remember him saying something about it being real nice about what I was doing in front of little kids.
... I didn't know what to do because I wanted to get out of the car but I have two people pulling me in two different directions, ... but I kept telling [the officer on the passenger side] "You're breaking my arm, you're breaking my arm."
... And then I remember... saying [to the officer on the driver's side"] "Tell [the officer on the passenger side] to let go, tell him to let go."... [A]nd I said, "Let me out, ... let me get out."
And at some point... the officer on the driver's side, he said "I got it, I got it, I got it."... And when he did that, the other officer kinda let back a little bit on me, and as I'm trying to get out, ...I'm tased.
And then... they're yelling for me to get out, and before I get out, I'm tased again.

Id. at 33-35. Pennington denies that she ever resisted the officers, and she believes her mind was "already clear when [she] was getting ripped out of [the] car." Id. at 41. The intake form from the jail states, however, that Pennington "state[d that] she blacked out, and [had] no knowledge of [her] arrest." Dkt. No. 34-5 at 4.

B. Pennington's Injuries and Medical Treatment

Pennington was treated at the scene by paramedics. She complained to them that her arm was hurting. There was a taser prong in her arm, and the paramedic removed it. At that time, she did not complain about her shoulder, as she did not think her shoulder was injured. Dkt. No. 34-1 at 40.

When Pennington arrived at the jail, she underwent a medical screening. At that point, she complained to everyone she encountered that her arm and shoulder were hurting. In fact, according to Pennington, when an officer took off her handcuffs in the booking room, her arm "was stuck up in the position behind [her] back. It wouldn't come down. It was locked up there. [She] had to manually move it, [to] put it into place." Id. at 43. She was given an aspirin or Tylenol after she arrived at the jail. The medical screening form confirms that Pennington complained of right shoulder pain and tenderness. The form notes, however, that there was no bruising and no abrasions. Pennington claims that there was not a true physical examination during the intake process. A person just "looked at [her] shoulder through [her] shirt and... said [she] was fine." Id. at 50. Another person in the booking area also looked at her shoulder through her shirt and said she was fine. Despite Pennington's requests for further medical attention and to be taken to the hospital, no further medical treatment was provided.

Pennington continued to complain about her shoulder pain to anyone who would listen. After she arrived at her assigned cell block, she pressed the emergency call button because she could not stop crying because of the pain. Again, her shoulder was examined through her shirt. This time, she was also questioned about her mental health history. She informed medical personnel that she suffered from PTSD, depression, and a panic disorder, and they gave her Trazodone and Seroquel. She did not, however, receive any treatment for her shoulder.

At some point, a female nurse removed her shirt and examined her shoulder. The nurse did not find anything wrong.

Pennington continued to push the emergency button and complained about her shoulder. Eventually, the guards quit ...

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