United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
KARL E. JONES, Plaintiff,
CITY OF FORT WAYNE, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO Judge United States District Court
Karl E. Jones alleges in this case that Jon Bonar, a Fort
Wayne police officer, used excessive force when arresting him
during a traffic stop. He sued Officer Bonar and the City of
Fort Wayne, asserting a variety of claims under state and
federal law. The defendants removed the case to federal
court, and have now moved for summary judgment. For the
following reasons, the Court grants the motion as to Mr.
Jones' federal claims, and remands the remaining claims
to state court for further proceedings.
Motion to Strike
addressing the facts, the Court notes that the defendants
have filed a motion to strike certain materials Mr. Jones
submitted in response to the motion for summary judgment. The
defendants first move to strike a number of paragraphs in Mr.
Jones' affidavit on grounds of relevance. However,
matters of relevance are best considered in connection with
the merits of the underlying motion. If the materials are not
relevant, they will not create disputes of material facts,
and will not affect the outcome of the motion,  Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a); they need not be stricken as well. The defendants also
object to other materials on grounds of admissibility,
arguing that the materials are speculative, constitute
hearsay, or were not properly disclosed during discovery.
Having reviewed those materials, the Court finds that they
would not affect the outcome of the motion, so the Court
declines to individually address the admissibility of those
materials. Finally, the defendants object to a chronology
submitted by Mr. Jones that transcribes and recounts what is
depicted in a video that captured the incident. The
chronology may be helpful for ease of reference, but to be
clear, the Court relies on the video itself to determine what
the video portrays. Fed.R.Evid. 1002. With that
understanding, the Court denies the motion to strike.
Jon Bonar is a police officer for the City of Fort Wayne.
Early in the morning on Sunday, April 7, 2013, he was on
patrol working an OWI enforcement program, and he observed a
pick-up truck perform a U-turn and then accelerate to a high
rate of speed. He called for assistance and caught up to
the vehicle at a stop light. Once the light turned green, he
activated his lights, and the vehicle, driven by Karl E.
Jones, pulled over after the intersection. Two other Fort
Wayne police officers, Officer James Rowland and Officer
Andrew Irick, were also present by that time. Officer Irick
parked alongside Officer Bonar, and his dash camera recorded
the ensuing incident.
Bonar approached the driver's side of the vehicle. When
he arrived at the window, Officer Bonar smelled an odor of
alcohol on Mr. Jones' breath, and observed that Mr. Jones
had watery, blood-shot eyes. Officer Bonar asked if Mr. Jones
had been drinking, and Mr. Jones turned his head away and
said “no.” Mr. Jones then gave his driver's
license to Officer Bonar, who returned to his car. Officer
Bonar retrieved his portable breath test and returned to Mr.
Jones' window. He asked Mr. Jones to take the breath
test, but Mr. Jones turned away and said, “I ain't
takin' that.” Officer Bonar then opened the
driver's door and directed Mr. Jones to step out of the
vehicle. Mr. Jones refused. Officer Bonar continued ordering
Mr. Jones to exit the vehicle, but Mr. Jones did not comply.
At that point, the truck was still running, and Mr.
Jones' hands were on the wheel. Officer Rowland was
standing behind Officer Bonar on the driver's side, and
Officer Irick was standing outside the passenger door.
Bonar reached for Mr. Jones' left arm to remove him from
the vehicle, but Mr. Jones pulled away. Officer Bonar then
reached in to turn off the vehicle as Officer Rowland
unlocked the doors so that Officer Irick could enter the
passenger door. The three officers then struggled to remove
Mr. Jones from the vehicle. Officers Bonar and Rowland pulled
on Mr. Jones from the driver's side and Officer Irick
pushed him from the passenger's side, while Mr. Jones
resisted them by gripping the wheel. After several seconds of
struggling, the officers were able to get Mr. Jones out of
the vehicle. He ended up face down on the road, with Officer
Rowland laying partially across his back and Officer Bonar on
his right side. Officer Bonar grabbed Mr. Jones' right
hand and placed it behind his back, after which he stood up
and struck his knee into Mr. Jones' back or side. Officer
Irick then arrived and knelt on Mr. Jones' left side. At
that point, Officer Bonar moved near Mr. Jones head and
crouched, placing his right knee on the back of Mr.
Jones' neck, as the three officers worked to secure Mr.
Jones' hands in handcuffs. Officer Bonar rocked back and
forth at one point as he assisted with the handcuffs, and
appeared to place much of his weight on Mr. Jones at times.
It is not clear to what extent any force Officer Bonar
applied to Mr. Jones at this point was meant to subdue and
control him, or was merely incidental to Officer Bonar's
attempt to get into position to secure Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones
was speaking to the officers throughout this time, mostly
asking the officers why he was being detained. Finally, Mr.
Jones said, “Your knee's on the back of my neck, I
have back problems, ” at which point Officer Bonar
stood up and did not again touch Mr. Jones. The encounter
lasted just over a minute from the time the officers began
trying to remove Mr. Jones from the vehicle to the time
Officer Bonar stood up.
other officers continued working to secure Mr. Jones in
handcuffs, and then placed him in a squad car. Mr. Jones was
then transported to the police station, where he received a
breath test a little over an hour after the stop was
initiated. Mr. Jones states that he was told that he passed
the test, but he does not dispute that it recorded his blood
alcohol content as 0.06%. Mr. Jones ultimately pled guilty to
reckless driving, a Class B misdemeanor.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is proper when 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). A “material” fact is one identified by the
substantive law as affecting the outcome of the suit.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A “genuine issue” exists with respect to
any material fact when “the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Id. Where a factual record taken as a
whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial, and
summary judgment should be granted. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986) (citing Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Servs. Co.,
391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)). In determining whether a genuine
issue of material fact exists, this Court must construe all
facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and
draw all reasonable and justifiable inferences in that
party's favor. Jackson v. Kotter, 541 F.3d 688,
697 (7th Cir. 2008); King v. Preferred Tech. Grp.,
166 F.3d 887, 890 (7th Cir. 1999).
Jones asserts claims against Officer Bonar and the City of
Fort Wayne arising out of these events. He asserts claims
against Officer Bonar under federal law, alleging that
Officer Bonar used excessive force against him. He also
asserts claims against both Officer Bonar and the City of