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Hale v. City of South Bend

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

July 18, 2018

JASON HALE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT L. MILLER, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On April 10, 2014, Jason Hale was detained by the South Bend Police Department based on a witness identification of Mr. Hale as involved in a shooting that killed a two-year-old child the day before. J.H., Mr. Hale's then fourteen-year-old sister, was arrested due to an alleged battery of an officer in connection with the detainment of Mr. Hale and subsequent protective sweep of the residence. Jason and J.H. now sues the police officers, St. Joseph County and the City of South Bend for allegedly violating Mr. Hale's state and federal constitutional rights. The defendants move for summary judgment with respect to all claims. The court heard argument on May 24 and now grants the motion.

         I. Background

         In the course of the investigation into the infant's killing, a man named Tyre M. Bradbury was identified as a suspect and arrested. While in police custody, Mr. Bradbury was interviewed by Detective Cook with the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit. While being driven to the Metro Homicide Unit's office, Mr. Bradbury identified a green Volkswagen Beetle that Mr. Bradbury described as belonging to the girlfriend of a man called "Ace"; Mr. Bradbury identified "Ace" as the person he was shooting guns with in a nearby park just before the infant was killed. Detective Cook radioed officers with the South Bend Police Department and asked that they stop the Volkswagen.

         Officer Taylor found the Volkswagen parked in front of 1342 E. Chalfant Street. The Volkswagen was unoccupied, but a Kia Optima with two white females in it was in front of the Volkswagen. Officer Taylor stopped the Kia. Officer Drury arrived shortly after for backup. While Officer Taylor was speaking to the occupants of the Kia, Officer Drury saw a female come out of 1342 E. Chalfant Street, and begin to approach the Volkswagen. Officer Drury learned that the boyfriend of the woman who had just exited 1342 E. Chalfant was inside the home.

         Officer Drury drew his weapon and began to move toward the home, and Officer Taylor followed suit. Other officers who had arrived on scene assisted Officers Drury and Taylor and the house was surrounded. Before the officers knocked on the door and attempted making any kind of entry into the home, Mr. Hale left the home through the front door. At the time Mr. Hale came out of the home, the officers had information that the Volkswagen's owner was the girlfriend of one of the suspects in the murder, and the owner of the Volkswagen had said that her boyfriend was inside the home.

         The officers ordered Mr. Hale to lie on the ground, and he complied immediately without any confrontation or issue. Officer Drury handcuffed Mr. Hale. Detective Cook arrived at the scene with Mr. Bradbury, who was still in Detective Cook's custody. Mr. Bradbury pointed to man being detained and identified that person as "Ace," whom police learned to be Mr. Hale. Upon receiving word that this was "Ace," the officers placed Mr. Hale in a police vehicle.

         Mr. Hale argues that Detective Cook had the complete ability to corroborate the information that he was being given about the identity of “Ace” apart from what Tyre Bradbury was relaying to him. Detective Cook interviewed multiple non-involved eye witnesses to the shooting, and never asked any of them for a physical description of the alleged assailants.

         The South Bend Police transported Mr. Hale to the Metro Homicide Unit's office for questioning, and had no contact with Mr. Hale after that, other than to take the handcuffs off Mr. Hale. Once Mr. Hale was placed in the police vehicle, the officers determined that they needed to perform a protective sweep of 1342 E. Chalfant Street.

         The officers had been told at their roll call that "Ace" might be with a second suspect, Cedric Washington, who was potentially armed and dangerous. When Mr. Hale was arrested, many officers and civilians were in the area directly outside of the home. The officers also learned that minor children-fourteen-year-old J.H. and a two year old - were in the residence. The officers at the front door called for J.H. and asked for her to get her two year old brother and step outside the home. J.H. complied, and the police entered the house with their guns drawn. Chelsea Betts, Mr. Hale's girlfriend, told J.H. the police were weren't supposed to go inside the home without a warrant, so J.H. went back into the home.

         J.H. told the police officer in the front room that they had to get out of her house, and the officer told her to “shut up.” Officer Napolitan then began to pull J.H. out of the house while she held onto the couch and then the front door frame. Officer Baker then threw J.H. to the ground, handcuffed her and placed her in a police vehicle, where she remained until Officer Baker took her first to the Metro Homicide Unit, and then to the Juvenile Justice Center. J.H. testified in her deposition that she was trying to stop the police from removing her from the home after she had reentered.

         In the second amended complaint filed on April 7, 2017 [Doc. No. 27], the Hales assert federal claims for unlawful search and seizure, excessive force and false arrest, and claims under Indiana law for assault and battery, excessive force, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false arrest, false imprisonment and trespass.

         The Hales also filed claims against St. Joseph County under Section 1983 and Indiana common law for false arrest, false imprisonment, and other intentional torts based upon the "information and belief that Commander Corbett was present at the Hale household to affect the arrest and that Mr. Cotter and/or Commander Corbett commanded Mr. Hale's detention. Because the plaintiffs no longer pursue an excessive force case with respect to J.H., the court will only address the claims with respect to Jason Hale.

         II. Standard of Review Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to the interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists whenever "there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). In deciding whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, "the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255; Weigle v. SPX Corp., 729 F.3d 724, 730 (7th Cir. 2013). The existence of an alleged factual dispute, by itself, won't defeat a summary judgment motion; "instead, the nonmovant must present definite, competent evidence in rebuttal," Parent v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 694 F.3d 919, 922 (7th Cir. 2012), and "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, 490 (7th Cir. 2007); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e)(2). "[S]ummary judgment is 'not a dress rehearsal or ...


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