United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants City of Indianapolis
(“the City”), Bryan Zotz (“Officer
Zotz”), and Jason Ross' (“Officer
Ross”) (collectively, “Defendants”) Motion
for Summary Judgment. (Filing No. 42.) During a traffic stop
by police officers, while riding as a backseat passenger in a
vehicle, Plaintiffs Famous Thompson (“Thompson”)
and Jamie Johnson (“Johnson”) (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”), were severely injured when
Officers Zotz and Ross fired shots into the backseat of the
vehicle. The Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against the
Defendants, asserting violation of their federal civil rights
under the Fourth and Eighth Amendments, as well as excessive
force, assault, battery, negligence and intentional
infliction of emotional distress under Indiana law. (Filing
No. 1.) The Plaintiffs voluntarily withdrew their Eighth
Amendment claim (Filing No. 43-6 at 2-3); (Filing No. 43-7 at
2-3), as well as their negligence and intentional infliction
of emotional distress claims (Filing No. 48). Therefore, the
Motion for Summary Judgment applies only to the Fourth
Amendment and the remaining state law claims. For the
following reasons, the Court DENIES the Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment.
any summary judgment motion, the following facts are reviewed
in the light most favorable to the Plaintiffs, the nonmoving
parties, and the Court draws all reasonable inferences in the
Plaintiffs' favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Zerante v.
DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009).
evening on April 2, 2013, Daniel Veza (“Officer
Veza”), with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police
Department, initiated a traffic stop on a red Chevrolet
Blazer after he witnessed the vehicle run a stop sign.
Officer Veza sent a message to Officer Ross requesting
back-up because he believed there were five individuals in
the vehicle. Id. at 3. As Officer Veza approached
the vehicle, he observed that the windows were tinted and
instructed the passengers to roll their windows down.
Id. at 1. Officer Veza observed five people inside
the vehicle. Id. Kevin Somerville
(“Sommerville”) was in the driver's seat,
Trisha Parish (“Parish”) was in the front
passenger seat, Johnson was sitting behind the driver's
seat, William Morris (“Morris”) was sitting
behind the passenger's seat, and Thompson was sitting
between Johnson and Morris. (Filing No. 44 at 2); (Filing No.
43-4 at 12, ¶¶ 9-24).
Veza asked Sommerville for his license and registration.
Id; (Filing No. 43-4 at 15, ¶¶ 19-21.)
Officer Zotz then arrived on the scene and assisted Officer
Veza in collecting identification from the passengers.
(Filing No. 48 at 2.) All passengers produced identification,
except Johnson who stated that she did not have an
Id. (Filing No. 44 at 3); (Filing No. 43-2 at 12,
¶ 3-7). Officer Veza returned to his vehicle to run
reports on the five occupants. (Filing No. 48 at 2.) By this
time, Officer Ross also arrived at the scene. (Filing No. 44
at 3.) While Officer Veza ran the reports, Officer Zotz
communicated with the passengers and gathered information
from them. (Filing No. 48 at 2.) Officer Zotz learned about
prior arrests involving Morris. Id. Officer Zotz
began to view Morris as a potential threat. Id.
running the reports on the passengers, Officer Veza learned
that Sommerville did not have a valid driver's license
and decided to remove the passengers and have the Blazer
towed. Id. at 2. Officer Veza returned to the
Blazer, removed Sommerville, and conducted a pat-down search.
(Filing No. 44 at 3); (Filing No. 43-4 at 21, ¶14-16).
Officer Zotz removed Parish and conducted a pat-down search.
Id; (Filing No. 43-4 at 12, ¶12-13). Officer
Zotz then began to remove the backseat passengers. (Filing
No. 48 at 2.) Officer Zotz ordered Morris to step out of the
vehicle. Id. Morris attempted to exit the vehicle,
but the door did not open. Id. at 3. Morris informed
Officer Zotz that the door was jammed and would not open.
Id. Officer Zotz also attempted to open the door
near Morris, but he could not get it open. (Filing No. 43-5
at 24 ¶¶ 20-21.) Morris continued trying to open
the door. Id. at 4. Johnson also attempted to open
her door, but the door failed to open. Id. at 4.
Johnson informed the officers that her door would not open.
Zotz then said, “show me your hands.”
Id. Thompson raised his hands. Id. Officer
Zotz pointed his gun and repeated, “show me your
hands.” Id. Thompson continued with his hands
raised, and Johnson raised her hands. Id. at 4.
Morris remained with his hands on the door handle, attempting
to get out of the car. Id. Morris then began to
raise his hands. Id. Officer Zotz yelled,
“He's got a gun, ” and shot six times.
Id. at 5. Officer Ross approached the rear passenger
side door, and shot five times. (Filing No. 44 at
6.) Johnson was shot twice, while attempting to exit the
vehicle by jumping out of the rear driver's side window.
(Filing No. 48 at 5.) Thompson suffered one gunshot wound
while jumping to the front of the vehicle. Id. at 4.
Morris was killed. (Filing No. 1.)
January 16, 2015, the Plaintiffs collectively filed their
Complaint, alleging that Officer Zotz and Officer Ross
violated their federal civil rights under the Fourth
Amendment, as well as state law claims of excessive force,
assault, and battery. (Filing No. 1.) The Plaintiffs
also allege that the City is liable for excessive force,
assault, and battery under the doctrine of respondeat
superior. Id. On May 31, 2016, the Defendants
collectively filed their Motion for Summary Judgment,
alleging that the Plaintiffs were not “seized” as
required by the Fourth Amendment, and Officers Zotz and Ross
lacked the necessary intent to be held liable for the state
law claims. The Defendants further allege that the City is
entitled to summary judgment because the underlying state law
claims fail as a matter of law. (Filing No. 42.)
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is
appropriate only where there exists “no genuine issue
as to any material facts and . . . the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56. In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court
reviews “the record in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in
that party's favor.” Zerante v. DeLuca,
555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).
“However, inferences that are supported by only
speculation or conjecture will not defeat a summary judgment
motion.” Dorsey v. Morgan Stanley, 507 F.3d
624, 627 (7th Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation marks
omitted). Additionally, “[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.” Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.com,
Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir. 2007) (citation
omitted). “The opposing party cannot meet this burden
with conclusory statements or speculation but only with
appropriate citations to relevant admissible evidence.”
Sink v. Knox County Hosp., 900 F.Supp. 1065, 1072
(S.D. Ind. 1995) (citations omitted).
much the same way that a court is not required to scour the
record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary
judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a paper trial on the
merits of [the] claim.” Ritchie v. Glidden
Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations and
quotation marks omitted). “[N]either the mere existence
of some alleged factual dispute between the parties nor the
existence of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts
is sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.”
Chiaramonte v. Fashion Bed Grp., Inc., 129 F.3d 391,
395 (7th Cir. 1997) (citations and quotation marks omitted).
Defendants moved for summary judgment on the Plaintiffs'
Fourth Amendment claims of excessive force and unreasonable
seizure, asserting that the Plaintiffs were not
“seized” as required by the Fourth Amendment. The
Defendants also moved for summary judgment on the
Plaintiffs' state law claims, alleging that Officers Zotz
and Ross lacked the necessary intent to be held liable for
assault, battery, and excessive force. The ...