United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
Marie Cosby OFFICE OF CORPORATION COUNSEL
Raeanna C. Spahn ESKEW LAW LLC Andrew J. Upchurch OFFICE OF
CORPORATION COUNSEL Richard A. Waples WAPLES & HANGER
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
R. SWEENEY II, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Sachin Gupta-drunk and handcuffed-lost his balance, fell
forward, and broke his neck when Officer Chad Melloh tugged
him toward the hotel exit. Mr. Gupta alleges federal civil
rights claims for excessive force and unreasonable
prosecution against Officer Melloh and a state-law claim for
battery against both Officer Melloh and the City of
Indianapolis. Defendants move for summary judgment.
Gupta, a software salesman, accompanied a customer to the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the early afternoon of May 22,
2017. (Gupta Dep. 30:15-31:4, ECF No. 49-7.) Once there, he
began to drink. (Id. at 33:7-15.) He went to dinner
with the customer and continued to drink. (Id. at
34:4-24.) After dinner and a stop at his hotel, Gupta went
alone to Casablanca-evidently a bar near the hotel-and drank
some more. (Id. at 37:5-7, 38:11-39:12.) The last
thing he remembers was smoking a cigarette at Casablanca.
(Id. at 39:16-25, 45:10-16.)
midnight, of all the hotels in all the towns in all the
world, Gupta walked into the Microtel Inn & Suites on
Rockville Road. (Eweda Aff. ¶ 8, ECF No. 49-4.)
Unfortunately, Gupta was not staying at the Microtel Inn
& Suites; he was staying at the Holiday Inn Express down
the street. (Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s 1st Interrog.
¶ 6, ECF No. 49-24; Eweda Aff. ¶ 8, ECF No. 49-4.)
staggered into the Microtel's vestibule and tried to
enter the lobby. The Microtel had locked its lobby doors at
11:00 p.m., and Gupta, of course, did not have a Microtel
keycard. (Morcos Aff. ¶ 6, ECF No. 49-3;.Eweda Aff.
¶ 8, ECF No. 49-4.) Gupta swiped a card across the
reader several times, but the lobby doors did not open. He
stumbled back and forth between the reception window and the
lobby doors and eventually engaged the night manager in
conversation through the reception window.
grew animated and shouted obscenities at the night
manager-variations on the theme “open this f***ing
door.” (Eweda Aff. ¶¶ 9-10, ECF No. 49-4.)
Gupta lay his right hand on a brochure rack and threw it
down, scattering ads for local attractions across the
floor. (Defs.' Ex. 18.4; Eweda Aff. ¶
11, ECF No. 49-4.) The night manager called the police.
(Eweda Aff. ¶¶ 12-13.)
Shawn Cook arrived at 12:34 a.m. (Defs.' Ex. 18.4 at
2:34.) Outside the hotel, Cook noticed flower pots overturned
and pizza smashed on the glass of the side door. (Cook Aff.
¶ 6, ECF No. 49-2 at 1.) Once inside the vestibule, Cook
saw the brochures scattered across the floor and Gupta,
intoxicated and angry. (Cook Dep. 7:14-23, 9:2-14, 13:22-24.)
Cook ordered Melloh to put his hands behind his back. Gupta
instead put his hand in the air, and Cook grabbed it and
cuffed his hands behind his back without incident.
(Defs.' Ex. 18.4 at 3:12-27; Cook Aff. ¶ 11.) Gupta
was “unsteady on his feet” and
“swaying.” (Cook Dep. 13:14-19, ECF No. 49-9.)
Melloh arrived two minutes later and spoke with Officer Cook.
(Defs.' Ex. 18.4 at 5:15.) Cook asked Melloh to watch
Gupta and then left the vestibule. Melloh went to the door,
opened it, and beckoned repeatedly for Gupta to follow.
(Defs.' Ex. 18.4 at 7:48-8:11.) Gupta did not come to the
door, so Melloh approached Gupta. (Id. at 8:12-18.)
Melloh testifies that he tried twice to lead Gupta toward the
door, and, when Gupta would not budge, he tugged Gupta more
forcefully. (Melloh Dep. 13:22- 14:17, ECF No. 49-8.)
and Melloh fell into the wall, then Gupta careened headlong
to the floor. (Defs.' Ex. 18.4 at 8:18-20.) Melloh
immediately grabbed Gupta and turned him on his side, then
lifted Gupta by the arm and dragged him outside.
(Id. at 8:21-48.) Once outside, Melloh sat Gupta
upright and noticed Gupta bleeding from the nose and mouth.
(Id. at 8:51.) One of the officers called for an
ambulance, which arrived and transported Gupta to Eskenazi
Hospital. Gupta was diagnosed with a fractured C-5 vertebra.
was charged by information with resisting law enforcement and
public intoxication based on Officer Cook's probable
cause affidavit. (Pl.'s Ex. 14, ECF No. 59- 10.) Gupta
entered a diversion agreement and the charges were dismissed.
(Pl.'s Ex. 16, 17, ECF Nos. 59-12, 59-13.)