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Henderson v. City of Indianapolis

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

July 26, 2019

CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, et al. Defendants.



         Plaintiff Karl B. Henderson brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants City of Indianapolis (the “City”) and Officer Justin Baker violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment in conducting an unreasonable seizure and false arrest. He also asserts a state-law claim for false arrest. Defendants move for summary judgment on the false arrest claims, arguing that Officer Baker is entitled to qualified immunity on the federal claims because he had probable cause to arrest Henderson for public intoxication, and even if Officer Baker did not have probable cause for the arrest, he had arguable probable cause. Defendants also contend that the City is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's state-law claim under respondeat superior because its officers had probable cause to arrest him.

         As a general rule, a party seeking summary judgment must raise arguments in support of its motion in its opening brief to provide the non-movant a fair opportunity to respond. See, e.g., Ramos v. City of Chicago, 716 F.3d 1013, 1017 (7th Cir. 2013). Defendants did not address whether the officers' initial investigatory stop was reasonable. The arguments in the motion focus on the defendants' conduct in arresting Henderson. However, Plaintiff's response brief addresses the investigatory stop, and Defendants' reply does as well. Regardless, the Court finds there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the investigatory stop was reasonable. The Court rules as follows:

         I. Background

         In the early morning hours of October 28, 2016, Officer Baker was working a late shift that ended at 6 a.m. for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (“IMPD”). (Baker Dep. 12, ECF No. 30-1 at 9.) At approximately 4:39 a.m., he responded to a dispatch report of a white male in a trench coat with a gun acting strangely in a McDonald's parking lot near County Line Road and Madison Avenue in Indianapolis. (ECF No. 30-1 at 10.) Officer Baker did not hear any explanation of what was meant by “acting strangely.” He drove to this area to search for the suspect. (ECF No. 30-1 at 11.)

         Officer Ryan Lundy advised other officers that he observed someone matching the suspect's description near a Chase Bank at County Line Road and U.S. 31 “hiding behind a telephone pole …. “ (ECF No. 30-1 at 11, 27-28.) Officer Baker drove toward Officer Lundy's location and saw Officer Lundy walking west across U.S. 31 from a Speedway gas station toward a shopping plaza. (ECF No. 30-1 at 11.) Officer Baker also saw Henderson stumble onto U.S. 31 while walking on the opposite side of the street. (ECF No. 30-1 at 18.)

         Officers detained Henderson at 4:52 a.m. and then Officer Baker approached Henderson and retrieved his firearm. (ECF No. 30-1 at 14.) Henderson was placed in handcuffs for officer safety and Mirandized. (ECF No. 39-1 at 15-16.) Officer Baker believed that Henderson was a threat to officer safety because it was the middle of the night, officers had received reports of an armed male acting strangely, Henderson was hiding behind a pole when he was identified by Officer Lundy, and numerous businesses had been robbed in the area around that time. (ECF No. 30-1 at 16.)

         The officers began speaking to Henderson, and Officer Baker, who has been trained in field sobriety tests and Advanced Roadside Impairment Detection, observed that Henderson appeared intoxicated. (ECF No. 30-1 at 17.) Officer Baker believed Henderson was intoxicated because he had slurred speech, an odor of alcoholic beverages on his person, and red, glassy bloodshot eyes. In addition, he was unsteady on his feet and while sitting down, demonstrated an inability to answer some of the officers' questions, and took a long time to answer other of their questions. (ECF No. 30-1 at 17.)

         The officers asked Henderson where he was headed, where he lived, how he planned to get home, and what he was doing out at four in the morning. (ECF No. 30-1 at 19.) Henderson was uncooperative. (ECF No. 30-1 at 18.) For example, when asked if he lived in the area or if he was staying with a friend or at a hotel, Henderson answered, “all of these.” (ECF No. 30-1 at 19-20.) Officers attempted to identify someone they could call to come get Henderson, even trying to identify someone in his chain of command (he was in the U.S. Army and assigned to Camp Atterbury, Indiana), but Henderson was either unable or unwilling to provide the officers with this information. (ECF No. No. 30-1 at 22.)

         After questioning Henderson for approximately 18 minutes and exhausting all means the officers could think of to try to get Henderson home, Officer Baker decided to arrest Henderson. (ECF No. 30-1 at 25, 35-36.) Officer Baker arrested Henderson for public intoxication because Baker believed that was the crime that Henderson was committing. (ECF No. 30-1 at 23.) Officer Baker believed that Henderson was a danger to himself because he had stumbled onto U.S. 31, Baker believed Henderson was a threat to the officers and that he had breached the peace and harassed, annoyed, or alarmed people earlier that night based on the information Baker had received that a man with a gun was acting strangely. (ECF No. 30-1 at 7-8.)

         II. Discussion

         “A district court properly grants summary judgment where there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Giles v. Godinez, 914 F.3d 1040, 1048 (7th Cir. 2019), petition for cert. filed, (U.S. June 3, 2019). A court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

         The non-movant must “make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). If the non-movant fails to establish an essential element of his case, there is a complete failure of proof, and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id. at 323. The non- movant “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); see also Giles, 914 F.3d at 1048 (stating that the non-movant must “present specific facts establishing a material issue for trial, and any inferences must rely on more than mere speculation or conjecture”). Where the “evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted).

         Defendants contend that Officer Baker is entitled to qualified immunity on Henderson's false arrest claim because he had probable cause, or at least arguable probable cause, to arrest Henderson. “[Q]ualified immunity shields officials from civil liability so long as their conduct ‘does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.'” Mullenix v. Luna, ___U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 305, 308 (2015) (quoting Pearson v. Callahan,555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009)). “[Q]ualified immunity protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.” Mullenix, 136 S.Ct. at 308 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Thus, “[a] state official is protected by qualified immunity unless the plaintiff shows: (1) that the official violated a statutory or constitutional right, and (2) that the right was “clearly established” at the time of the challenged conduct.” Lovett v. Herbert, 907 F.3d 986, 991 (7th Cir. 2018) (alteration in original) (quoting Kemp v. Liebel, 877 F.3d 346, 350 (7th Cir. 2017)). To determine whether a right was clearly established at the time of the challenged conduct, courts examine “whether it ...

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