United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment [Docket No. 39], filed on March 21, 2016.
For the reasons detailed herein, the motion is
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
9, 2013, as part of the Greenfield Police Department's
"Operation Pull Over"-a special project designed to
detect and stop intoxicated drivers-Officer Caleb Freeman
conducted a traffic stop of Mark Mueller, citing him for
traveling left of center. Mueller had recently also been
stopped by Officer Freeman for failing to signal 200 feet
prior to making a turn. Feeling that he was being harassed by
Officer Freeman, Mueller called 911 and requested that
another officer be dispatched to the scene. He also placed a
call to his parents, Plaintiff Wayne Mueller and his wife
Marlyne, requesting that they come to the scene to serve as
witnesses. Shortly thereafter, Lieutenant Scott Laymon, the
Officer in Charge for the July 9, 2013 night shift, arrived.
Mark Mueller was asked to exit his vehicle and walked back to
speak with the officers in front of Officer Freeman's
patrol car, during which conversation he grew increasingly
agitated and complained of harassment by the officers.
Mueller was speaking with the officers near Officer
Freeman's patrol car, his parents Wayne and Marlyne
arrived, parking their vehicle in front of their son's.
Lt. Laymon approached their vehicle and instructed multiple
times that the parents remain inside, but, disobeying those
commands, Wayne and Marlyne exited their vehicle and began
accusing the officers of "picking on" their son.
After briefly exchanging words with the parents, Lt. Laymon
instructed Officer Freeman to prepare the citation for Mark
Mueller. Officer Freeman walked back to his patrol car to
finish preparation, at which point Lt. Laymon and Marlyne
began shouting at one another. Officer Freeman then walked
back to the rear of the Muellers' vehicle.
point, Plaintiff Wayne Mueller, who could be heard on Officer
Freeman's dash cam, said, "You're just rookie
and you're just picking on everybody." Defs.'
Ex. E. He then, as also recorded, fell into the ditch
adjacent to the shoulder of the road. Id.
Immediately thereafter, Officer Freeman was observed in the
dash cam, on top of Plaintiff, placing him under arrest.
Officer Freeman stated: "You will not strike me
sir." Id. at 23:03: 05-07. Plaintiff rejoined:
"I didn't strike you." Id. at
23:03:09-10. Officer Freeman then informed Plaintiff:
"You are going to jail today for battery on a law
enforcement officer." Id. at 23:03:10-15.
Freeman explains more fully what was caught by video, saying
that following his return to the group as they were located
between Mark Mueller's car and his parents' vehicle,
Plaintiff Wayne Mueller struck his arm, in response to which,
Freeman reached for and grabbed Plaintiffs left arm in an
attempt to use an arm-bar handcuffing technique to place
Plaintiff under arrest. Plaintiff resisted by pulling away
from his grasp, which resulted in the two men losing their
balance and tumbling to the ground. Plaintiff, on the other
hand, denies ever touching Officer Freeman and maintains
that, in telling Officer Freeman to stop harassing his son,
he had simply raised his hand, in response to which, Officer
Freeman attempted the arm-bar takedown technique and threw
him into the ditch.
Plaintiff was handcuffed, he was placed in the back of
Officer Freeman's patrol car and taken to jail. While in
jail, his left wrist began to sting, and the next day, on
July 10, 2013, he visited the Community Hospital Emergency
Room where he learned that his left wrist was in fact
fractured. Plaintiff has since had two surgeries on his wrist
and continues to complain of residual pain and deficits in
his range of motion.
result of the incident and arrest, Plaintiff was charged with
Battery on a Police Officer and Resisting Law Enforcement,
State v. Mueller, 30D02-1307-CM-000997. On June 20,
2014, he pled guilty to Resisting Law Enforcement, a Class A
Misdemeanor; the Battery Count was dismissed.
January 22, 2015, Plaintiff commenced the action against
Defendants City of Greenfield, Greenfield Police Department,
and Officer Caleb Freeman pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that "the acts and omissions of Defendant
Officer Caleb Freeman constitute(d) an unlawful use of
excessive, unreasonable force, all in violation of the 4th
and 14th Amendments of the Constitution of the United
States." Dkt. 1 at ¶ 17. Plaintiff also raised a
state law claim against Defendants, alleging that Officer
Freeman was negligent in using excessive, unreasonable and
unnecessary force in placing him under arrest. Id.
at ¶ 20.
March 21, 2016, Defendants filed their motion for summary
judgment on all counts. Dkt. 39. The motion became fully
briefed on August 13, 2016, and is now ripe for decision.
judgment is appropriate when the record shows that there is
no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Disputes as to material facts are
genuine where the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In
deciding whether genuine issues of material fact exist, the
court construes all facts in a light most favorable to the
non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in favor
of the non-moving party. See id. at 255. However,
neither the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute
between the parties, id. at 247, nor the existence
of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986), will defeat a motion for summary
judgment. Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Illinois,
Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000).
moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing
the district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The party seeking summary
judgment on a claim on which the non-moving party bears the
burden of proof at trial may ...