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Simpson v. City of Indianapolis

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

January 11, 2017




         On June 3, 2012, Plaintiff, Joseph Simpson, saw that several police officers were outside of a house on his street. He knew that a young boy lived in the house with his grandmother, and believed that the boy was home alone at the time. He wanted to check on the boy, so he walked over to the neighbor's house. The police officers at the home explained that they were investigating a reported burglary in progress and needed Simpson to leave the crime scene. Before making his way back home, Simpson called out to the boy twice and then argued with an officer. During this encounter, officers ordered him to leave and threatened him with arrest several times. An officer ultimately came up behind Simpson and attempted to perform an arrest. Simpson initially snatched his hand away, but then submitted to the arrest. He was ultimately charged with refusing to leave the scene of an emergency incident area and resisting law enforcement. At trial, the first charge was dismissed and he was found not guilty of the second.

         Simpson filed this lawsuit against Defendants, the City of Indianapolis and Officer Andrew McKalips, to redress what he believes was an unlawful arrest and prosecution. Defendants now move for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS Defendants' motion.

          I. Background

         On June 3, 2012, at approximately 5:40 p.m., M.S., a fourteen-year-old boy who was home alone, called 911. (Filing No. 88-1, Computer-Aided Dispatch (“CAD”) Report at 1; Filing No. 88-2, Deposition of M.S. 11:21-25, 12:8-10; Filing No. 88-3, 911 Audio, Tracks 1, 2). He reported that five males were trying to break into his home through a window. (911 Audio, Track 2).

         Several officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (“IMPD”) were dispatched to investigate the reported burglary in progress. (CAD Report at 1; 911 Audio, Track 6; Filing No. 88-4, Probable Cause Affidavit (“PC Aff.”) at 1). When the officers arrived at the scene, Officer McKalips stopped two juveniles in front of the home for questioning while two other officers walked around the perimeter of the house to look for signs of forced entry. (PC Aff. at 1). A fourth officer subsequently arrived at the scene to assist. (Id.). M.S., who was hiding in the basement, was still on the phone with the 911 operator. (911 Audio, Track 2). After the officers completed a perimeter check, they asked the 911 operator to have the boy come to the door. (Id. at Track 6). The 911 operator told M.S. that it was safe for him to go to the door, but he was too scared to do so. (Id. at Track 2).

         While the officers were investigating the situation, Simpson, who happened to live across the street and a few houses down, saw the police officers and decided to walk over so that he could check on M.S. (Filing No. 88-5, Deposition of Joseph Simpson 55:15-18, 56:16-57:1; Filing No. 95-1, Affidavit of Joseph Simpson ¶ 1). He approached the house by walking up a paved path that led from the public sidewalk up to the home's front porch. (Simpson Aff. ¶ 11). He stopped at the end of the path at the bottom of the steps to the front porch. (Simpson Dep. 69:19-24). Officers at the front door told Simpson that they were investigating a burglary in progress. (Id. 70:1-2). He replied that M.S. was inside the home and that he could help them get the boy to come outside. (Id. 70:3-6). The officers responded that Simpson needed to leave the area because it was a crime scene at that point. (Id. 70:6-8). Simpson said he just wanted to help. (Id. 70:8-9). The officers declined his offer to help and reiterated that it was a crime scene. (Id. 70:9). Simpson testified that during this exchange, the officers told him “that it was a crime scene and to leave” two times. (Id. 74:21-23).

         Simpson began walking back down the path toward the public sidewalk when he noticed that one of the home's windows was open. (Simpson Aff. ¶¶ 15-16). He knew that the open window was in M.S.' bedroom, so, as he was walking, he “called out” to the boy and said, “Melvin, open the door.” (Id. ¶ 16; Simpson Dep. 77:1-6). Simpson then continued moving away from the home. (Simpson Dep. 78:3-7).

         M.S. was finally persuaded by the 911 operator that it was safe to meet the police at the door. (911 Audio, Track 4). He subsequently opened the door for the officers. (Id.). By that time, Simpson had moved away from the house under investigation and was standing on the sidewalk in front of the adjacent property. (Simpson Dep. 78:3-13). He saw the police go into the house and, shortly thereafter, come back out onto the front porch with M.S. (Id. 78:10-13). Simpson again “called out” to the boy, asking “was he okay and did he get ahold of his grandmother.” (Id. 78:14-15; Simpson Aff. ¶ 20).

         Officer McKalips yelled to Simpson that he “need[ed] to keep moving” because he had “been asked to leave the crime scene.” (Simpson Dep. 80:15-19). Officer McKalips added, “[I]f you don't leave, I will arrest you.” (Simpson Aff. ¶ 20). Simpson responded “that he had left the scene, and that he was nowhere near the scene.” (Id. ¶ 21). Officer McKalips then explained that Simpson needed to do two specific things: (1) get 150 feet away from the emergency area, and (2) get inside his house. (Simpson Dep. 82:16-20). He again added that if Simpson did not comply, he would be arrested. (Simpson Aff. ¶ 22). Simpson retorted that moving 150 feet away from the area would require him to walk past his own house-he would be “standing outside in the alley somewhere.” (Simpson Dep. 82:21-23). He told Officer McKalips that he was “a City-County Council person, ” and therefore understood “what police do.” (Id. 83:25-84:1). He also emphasized that he was 61 years old, a property owner, and a taxpayer, that he paid Officer McKalips' salary, and that he was standing on public property at the time. (Id. 83:21-24, 93:22-94:12).

         Officer McKalips stated, “Well, if you don't continue, I'm going to arrest you.” (Id. 84:3-4). Simpson replied, “For what? I am - I'm moving, I ain't doing anything.” (Id. 89:23-90:2). Simpson crossed the street and was standing on the sidewalk in front of his house when he heard his daughter, who had been outside watching the events unfold, say, “Daddy, turn around, he's got a Taser on you.” (Id. 84:6-16; Simpson Aff. ¶ 29). As Simpson started to turn around, he felt his hand being grabbed from behind. (Simpson Dep. 84:20-21). He “snatch[ed] it back.” (Id. 84:22). He then heard Officer McKalips say, “You're under arrest.” (Id. 84:22-23). Simpson turned and saw Officer McKalips pointing a Taser at him. (Id. 84:25-85:1). He subsequently turned back around, put his hands behind his back, and allowed Officer McKalips to handcuff him. (Id. 85:3-7). Simpson was arrested and transported from the scene. (Simpson Aff. ¶ 38).

         Officer McKalips prepared a probable cause affidavit. (See P.C. Aff.). Based on that affidavit, a special prosecutor charged Simpson with (1) refusing to leave the scene of an emergency incident area, and (2) resisting law enforcement, both as misdemeanors. See State v. Simpson, No. 49F07-1206-CM-037394 (Marion Super. Ct. 2012). On November 19, 2012, the Marion Superior Court dismissed Count 1 and, after a bench trial, found Simpson not guilty on Count 2. Id. This lawsuit ensued.

         II. Legal Standard

         “Summary judgment is proper where, construing facts and drawing inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, ‘there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'” Novosels ...

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