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Schenke v. Lehman

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division, Lafayette

August 16, 2019

JAMES K. SCHENKE, Plaintiff,
THOMAS LEHMAN, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the court on defendants' partial motion to dismiss. (DE # 13.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following factual allegations come from plaintiff James Schenke's pro se amended complaint and the police report attached as an exhibit to his amended complaint. (DE ## 4; 4-1.) The allegations in the amended complaint are largely consistent with the information contained in the police report. However, to the extent that the accounts differ, the court accepts Schenke's version of events as true for the purposes of ruling on the motion to dismiss.

         On October 28, 2016, Tippecanoe County Sheriff Department deputies defendants Thomas Lehman and Jodi Rohler responded to a 911 call originating from Schenke's home. (DE # 4-1 at 1.) The caller hung up, and when the dispatcher returned the call it went straight to voicemail. (Id.) When Lehman and Rohler arrived, Schenke's wife Shauna answered the door with one of their daughters, 11-year old L.S., who was crying. (Id. at 1; DE # 4 at 3.) Lehman asked Shauna if everything was ok, and Shauna told him that she was in “a little argument” with Schenke, but that they had “things all sorted out and everything is ok.” (DE # 4 at 2.) Shauna told the officers that their assistance was unnecessary and unwanted. (Id. at 3.) The officers then entered the home without Shauna's permission. (Id. at 3.) The officers separated the members of Schenke's family - Schenke, Shauna, L.S., the couple's eight-year old daughter C.S., and their six-year old son W.S. - and began questioning the family. (Id. at 3, 23.) At the time they entered, the home was quiet and no one had any visible injuries. (Id. at 3.)

         When Lehman spoke with Schenke, Schenke explained that he had been struggling all morning to get the family packed and out the door for a weekend trip to Chicago. (Id. at 13.) At one point, the children began roughhousing - jumping on his back and tugging on his arms - as he attempted to complete the packing. (Id.) Schenke was “sweaty” and “still winded and heart pounding” from the children's “attack” on him when, shortly thereafter, the officers knocked on his door. (Id. at 17.)

         Schenke also told Lehman that L.S. has a history of attacking her parents and that she attacked Schenke earlier that day. (Id. at 12.) He claims that earlier that morning L.S. had thrown things at him, attempted to kick and punch him, and that she had hit him over the head with a suitcase. (Id. at 13.) Schenke told Lehman that after L.S. hit him with the suitcase, he hit her once on her waist with a belt. (Id.) When L.S. then punched him, he spanked her bottom twice with his hand. (Id. at 7-8, 13.) Schenke explained to Lehman that L.S. has an untreated mood disorder, leading to her challenging behavior. (Id. at 8.) He told Lehman that L.S. called the police because she did not want to go to Chicago. (Id. at 6.)

         When Lehman spoke with Shauna, Shauna told him that Schenke had pushed C.S. against the wall, pinned her there with his hand around her throat, and yelled into her ear. (DE # 4-1 at 2.) Shauna told Lehman that C.S. had been crying and talking, so Shauna did not think Schenke squeezed C.S.'s throat. (Id.)

         Shauna also told Lehman that Schenke hit her in the hip/buttock area with a belt, and that this caused some minor pain. (Id.) Shauna told Lehman that Schenke used his body to push her backward and yelled at her not to say slanderous things about him. (Id.) She also said Schenke pushed her hard against the wall and threatened that he could slam her head through a wall if he wanted to. (Id.) When Schenke spoke to Lehman, Schenke reported that Shauna accused him of being “murderous” and screamed at him, “Go ahead. Slam my head through a wall. Kill me. You know that's what you want to do.” (DE # 4 at 22.) While Schenke told Lehman that he did not hit Shauna, he admitted that he grabbed her face around her chin in order to speak with her during their argument. (DE # 4-1 at 1.)

         Shauna told Lehman that Schenke had become abusive over the previous few years, and that he had battered her a few times but she had only reported one such incident. (Id. at 2.) She told Lehman that Schenke mentally abused their children on a daily basis. (Id.) The officers did not see any injuries on Shauna or the children. (DE ## 4 at 7; 4-1 at 2.)

         Lehman interviewed Shauna in the master bedroom. (DE # 4-1 at 3.) While in the bedroom, Lehman noticed numerous types of ammunition. (Id.) Shauna told Lehman that Schenke owned a few different guns, but that none of the guns had been used during the family's dispute that day. (Id.) Schenke reported to Rohler that Shauna was afraid that L.S. would use Schenke's guns against the family. (Id. at 6.)

         Lehman placed Schenke under arrest for domestic battery and Rohler transported Schenke to jail. (Id. at 2.) A few hours after his arrest, Lehman questioned Schenke. (DE # 4 at 7.) Schenke asked for counsel, but Lehman continued his questioning and did not provide him counsel. (Id.)

         In his report, Lehman identified the victims of the domestic battery as Shauna, C.S., and L.S. (DE # 4-1 at 4.) A “no contact” order was completed - listing Shauna and the children on the order. (Id. at 2.) Lehman confiscated ten guns from Schenke. (Id. at 4.) The officers also contacted the Department of Child Services. (Id. at 3.) An Indiana Superior Court later entered a protective order, classifying Schenke as a “dangerous person” and approving the confiscation of Schenke's firearms.[1] (DE # 4 at 7, 11.) The Tippecanoe County Prosecutor ultimately declined to file charges against Schenke. (DE # 4 at 2.)

         Liberally construing Schenke's amended complaint, he alleges claims for unlawful warrantless entry into his home, unlawful seizure of his person during questioning, unlawful entry and/or search of his bedroom, failure to provide a Miranda warning during questioning, failure to stop questioning when he requested a lawyer, unlawful questioning of his children, false arrest, and unlawful seizure of his firearms. He alleges that Lehman and Rohler intentionally arrested him without probable cause, and that the officers intentionally misrepresented evidence in their police report. (Id. at 2-4.) Schenke also names several other ...

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