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Sanzone v. Murphy

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

December 28, 2018

DAWNE A SANZONE Personal Representative of the Supervised Estate of Keith R. Koster, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER WILLIAM “BILLY” MURPHY, OFFICER JAMES GRAY, OTHER UNKNOWN OFFICERS AND PERSONNEL OF THE CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS in their official capacities, CONSOLIDATED CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, MARION COUNTY, INDIANA, Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Dawne A. Sanzone's (“Sanzone”) Motion for Relief from Judgment filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) (Filing No. 103). Following the grant in part and denial in part of a Motion for Summary Judgment (Filing No. 84) filed by Defendants Officer William Murphy (“Officer Murphy”), Officer James Gray (“Officer Gray”), Other Unknown Officers and Personnel of the City of Indianapolis and the Consolidated City of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana (“the City of Indianapolis”), Officer Gray appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Filing No. 85). The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, instructing the Court to enter summary judgment in Officer Gray's favor, which this Court did. (Filing No. 97; Filing No. 98.) The Court later entered summary judgment on behalf of Defendant, the City of Indianapolis, on all claims[1]. (Filing No. 101.) Sanzone filed the instant motion for relief the final judgment entered at Filing No. 102. For the following reasons, the Court denies Sanzone's Motion for Relief from Judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. The Facts

         The facts of this case are set forth in detail in the Courts' Entry on Defendants Motion for Summary (Filing No. 84) and thus, are only summarized in this Order. On January 21, 2014, Keith R. Koster (“Koster”) left a voice message on his friend Timothy Bess' (“Bess”) telephone, indicating that Koster was in distress. Because Bess lived in a different state and could not check on Koster himself, he called the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (“IMPD”) and asked if they could send an ambulance to do a wellness-check on Koster. An IMPD dispatcher spoke with Koster over the telephone and informed him that she was going to contact an ambulance. The dispatcher asked Koster if he would open the door for paramedics when they arrived and Koster responded that he would not let them in. The dispatcher called Sarah Hunt (“Hunt”), the apartment manager, and asked Hunt to provide keys to Koster's apartment so that upon their arrival, paramedics and police officers could enter and help Koster.

         Shortly thereafter, Officer Murphy arrived at Koster's apartment, where Hunt met him. Officer Murphy and Hunt opened the door and Koster stated: “Don't come in. I don't want you to come in.” A short time later, Lieutenant Benjamin Holton of the Indianapolis Fire Department (“Lt. Holton”) arrived at Koster's apartment and announced from Koster's doorway that they needed to enter the apartment to help him. Koster responded: “If you enter my apartment I will shoot you.” At that moment, Hunt looked down and noticed a gun in Koster's right hand, partially covered by a blanket. Hunt backed out of Koster's apartment and, once she was outside of the apartment, announced that Koster had a gun.

         After learning of the gun, Officer Murphy radioed his supervisor, who decided to call the special weapons and tactics (“SWAT”) team. While waiting on SWAT to arrive, Officer Murphy attempted to negotiate with Koster, requesting that Koster put his gun down so that he could receive medical attention. Koster did not comply.

         Once SWAT arrived at the scene, SWAT negotiators Daniel Rosenberg (“Officer Rosenberg”) and Eli Raisovich attempted to negotiate with Koster to put the weapon down. Officer Rosenberg observed Koster laying at an angle on his bed, which was a mattress on the floor, with his back visible from the door. Officer Rosenberg also noticed a black revolver in Koster's right hand that was lowered down to his side. More officers arrived on the scene. Officer Chris Phemster (“Officer Phemster”) positioned himself in front of Officer Rosenberg with a ballistic shield in one hand and .40 caliber Glock in his other hand. Officer Justin Reese (“Officer Reese”) stood to the left of Officer Phemster with his gun drawn. Soon after, SWAT team Officer Gray and Sergeant Steve Walters (“Sgt. Walters”) arrived. Officer Gray was armed with an MP5 submachine gun and Sgt. Walters had a less lethal bean bag shotgun. Upon arriving, Officer Gray quickly instructed Officer Reese that he maintained “priority of shot”-meaning he occupied a position with the best viewpoint to shoot. At this point, there were a total of five tactically dressed officers standing in Koster's doorway with their firearms drawn.

         The conversation between Koster and Officer Rosenberg continued and at a point, Koster became agitated. All officers in the doorway took cover with the SWAT teams ballistic shield. By this time, Koster was sitting up, cross-legged on his bed with his hands in his lap. (Filing No. 69-10 at 31.) Officer Rosenberg continued negotiating with Koster. However, Koster became more agitated when the officers refused to leave and informed the officers that he intended to “fire a warning shot.” (Filing No. 77-9 at 10.) Officers observed movement of Koster's shoulder as he began to raise up his arm that was holding the handgun. (Filing No. 69-10 at 36.) Noticing the handgun, Officer Gray began to point his firearm at Koster. Id. Koster's arm came to a full extension. Id. Sgt. Walters, armed with the less lethal bean bag shotgun, stated: “everyone…stay down, if this goes bad I'm going to fire a less lethal round first so don't jump up I don't want to…hit you in the back of the head with a less lethal bean bag at point blank range.” (Filing No. 77-10 at 8.) Almost simultaneously with Sgt. Walters' firing the less lethal bean bag shotgun, Officer Gray fired two or three shots with his MP5 submachine gun. Two shots fired by Officer Gray hit Koster in the head and the neck, killing him.

         B. Procedural History

         On September 21, 2015, Sanzone, as personal representative of Koster's estate, filed an Amended Complaint asserting five counts: (Count I) false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment against Officers Murphy and Gray, (Count II) excessive and deadly force in violation of the Fourth Amendment against Officers Murphy and Gray, (Count III) assault and battery under Indiana law against the City of Indianapolis, (Count IV) false arrest under Indiana law against the City of Indianapolis, and (Count V) wrongful death under Indiana law against the City of Indianapolis. (Filing No. 11.) This Court granted summary judgment as to Counts I and IV of the Amended Complaint and dismissed Officer Murphy. (Filing No. 84.) But this Court denied summary judgment as to Counts II, III, and V, finding that a material question of fact existed regarding whether Officer Gray acted reasonably, and therefore the Court could not determine at the summary judgment stage that he was entitled to qualified immunity. Id. at 16-17. Accordingly, the state law tort claims against the City of Indianapolis arising out of Officer Gray's actions remained.

         Officer Gray appealed the Court's Entry on Summary Judgment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. (Filing No. 85.) In a per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals determined the undisputed evidence showed that Koster pointed a firearm at Officer Gray and other officers, and that by law Officer Gray “did not violate Koster's Fourth Amendment right by defending himself and other officers once Koster pointed a gun at them.” (Filing No. 97 at 10.) It consequently reversed and remanded to this Court “with instructions to enter judgment for Gray on the excessive-force claim, ” and to terminate him from this action. Id. at 12; Filing No. 98 at 1. The claims remaining were the state law claims against the City of Indianapolis for Assault and Battery (Count III) and Wrongful Death (Count V). In accordance with Local Rule 16-2, the parties were ordered to file their position statements regarding how the Court should proceed on the remaining state law claims. Id.

         After consideration of the parties' position statements (Filing No. 99; Filing No. 100), summary judgment was granted in favor of the City of Indianapolis on all claims. (Filing No. 101.) Having resolved all claims as to all parties, the Court directed the entry of final judgment and dismissed the action with prejudice. (Filing No. 102.) Following that entry, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60, Sanzone filed the instant Motion for Relief from Judgment. (Filing No. 103.)

         II. L ...


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