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Williams v. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department

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

July 1, 2019

CARL WILLIAMS and SONIA WILLIAMS, Plaintiffs,
v.
INDIANAPOLIS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT, CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, and CHRISTOPHER MILLS, Officer, Individually and in Capacity as a Sworn Officer employed by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Defendants.

          ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS' PARTIAL MOTION TO DISMISS

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on a Partial Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (“IMPD”), City of Indianapolis (“the City”) and Officer Christopher Mills (“Officer Mills”) (collectively, “Defendants”) (Filing No. 11). After Officer Mills shot Plaintiff Carl Williams (“Mr. Williams”), he and his wife Sonia Williams (“Mrs. Williams”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed a civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Complaint consists of four counts: Count I, excessive force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments against Officer Mills; Count II, excessive force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments against the City and IMPD; Count III, assault in violation of Indiana law against Officer Mills and the City; and Count IV, intentional infliction of emotional distress in violation of Indiana law against Officer Mills and the City. (Filing No. 1 at 6-13.) Defendants move to dismiss several claims with prejudice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants' Partial Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         As required when reviewing a partial motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true the factual allegations in the complaint and draws all inferences in favor of Plaintiffs as the non-moving party. See Bielanski v. County of Kane, 550 F.3d 632, 633 (7th Cir. 2008).

         On August 23, 2016, Plaintiffs were the owners and occupants of a residence located on Fox Tail Drive, Indianapolis, Indiana. (Filing No. 1 at 3.) Mrs. Williams was employed by the Carrier Corporation working a night shift. Id. During the early hours of August 23, 2016, after completing her shift at Carrier, Mrs. Williams traveled to her home, arriving a little after 4:00 a.m. Id. Upon arriving home, and exiting her vehicle, she was accosted by an individual armed with a long rifle. Id. She managed to escape the attacker and enter her home, waking her husband who had been asleep. Id.

         After entering her home, the Plaintiffs called 911 reporting that Mrs. Williams had been assaulted in her driveway. Id. at 4. During the 911 call Plaintiffs provided a detailed description of the assailant. Id. They described the assailant as an 18 or 19-year-old, light complexioned African American male, tall, wearing a red shirt and red shoes. Id. Transcripts maintained by the City indicate that the description was broadcast to all IMPD units answering the 911 call. Id.

         After making the call, Mr. Williams retrieved his Glock 27 semi-automatic pistol which he safely stored in his home for personal protection. Id. Mr. Williams is a short African American male with medium to dark brown complexion, who was not wearing shoes nor any red clothing and did not own or possess a long gun. Id. Mr. Williams was well acquainted with the safety and lawful operation of his handgun because of his training as a former military policeman and his service in the United States Air Force. Id.

         As Mr. Williams exited his residence and walked through his lit garage, he did not see any movement in the driveway. Id. As he stood at the edge of his garage, where the end of the garage meets the driveway surface, he was shot at multiple times by someone later identified as Officer Mills. Id. at 5. Mr. Williams was struck by a bullet that came from Officer Mills' 40 caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun without prior verbal command or warning. Id. at 4-5. Mr. Williams could not see where the gunfire came from because Officer Mills was hidden in darkness, with a clear view of Mr. Williams and no exposure to danger himself. Id. at 5. After he was shot, Mr. Williams remained conscious and was able communicate that he was the homeowner who made the 911 call. Id. Officer Mills radioed for emergency personnel. Prior to shots being fired, there was no communication between the officers on the premises and Mr. Williams. Id. Mr. Williams had not made any threats, verbal or physical, to members of IMPD. Id. Mr. Williams also did not act in an aggressive manner towards members of IMPD. Id.

         The Plaintiffs filed their Complaint stemming from these facts alleging excessive force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Filing No. 1.) They allege that the conduct of the Defendants during their encounter was so outrageous in character and so extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and should be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community. (Filing No. 1 at 12.) Plaintiffs contend that the City is liable in its representative capacity for the intentional tort of assault and battery and the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress, both under the theory of respondeat superior. Id. On October 18, 2018, The Defendants filed the instant Partial Motion to Dismiss certain claims. (Filing No. 11.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint that has failed to “state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court accepts as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draws all inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Bielanski, 550 F.3d at 633. However, courts “are not obliged to accept as true legal conclusions or unsupported conclusions of fact.” Hickey v. O'Bannon, 287 F.3d 656, 658 (7th Cir. 2002).

         The complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Therefore, the court must determine whether the complaint contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

         The United States Supreme Court further explained that although “detailed factual allegations” are not required, mere “labels, ” “conclusions, ” or “formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action” are insufficient. Id. See Bissessur v. Ind. Univ. Bd. of Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 603 (7th Cir. 2009) (“it is not enough to give a threadbare recitation of the elements of a claim without factual support”). To be facially plausible, the complaint must allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         III. ...


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