United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
Plaintiff, Theodore Robert, is a former police officer with
the South Bend Police Department (SBPD). On March 25, 2016,
the Plaintiff filed a Third Amended Complaint [ECF No. 51]
against the City of South Bend, alleging that he was denied a
promotion for a School Resource Officer position posted in
November 2011 because he is African American, in violation of
Title VII and the Equal Protection Clause to the United
States Constitution. This matter is before the Court on the
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 93],
filed on January 4, 2019. For the reasons stated below, the
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Supreme Court has explained that
“the burden on the moving party may be discharged by
‘showing'-that is, pointing out to the district
court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). “If the moving
party has properly supported his motion, the burden shifts to
the non- moving party to come forward with specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Spierer v. Rossman, 798 F.3d 502, 507 (7th Cir.
2015). “To survive summary judgment, the nonmoving
party must establish some genuine issue for trial such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict in [his] favor.”
Gordon v. FedEx Freight, Inc., 674 F.3d 769, 772-73
(7th Cir. 2012). Within this context, the Court must construe
all facts and reasonable inferences from those facts in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Frakes v.
Peoria Sch. Dist. No. 150, 872 F.3d 545, 550 (7th Cir.
2017). However, the nonmoving party “is only entitled
to the benefit of inferences supported by admissible
evidence, not those ‘supported by only speculation or
conjecture.'” Grant v. Trs. of Ind. Univ.,
870 F.3d 562, 568 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing Nichols v.
Michigan City Plant Planning Dep't, 755 F.3d 594,
599 (7th Cir. 2014)). Likewise, irrelevant or unnecessary
factual disputes do not preclude the entry of summary
judgment. Carroll v. Lynch, 698 F.3d 561, 564 (7th
Cir. 2012) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).
OF MATERIAL FACTS
Plaintiff, an African American male, has an undergraduate
degree from Hope College, has a master's degree in public
affairs from Indiana University, and is a graduate of the
Kalamazoo Valley Law Enforcement Academy. Decl. of Theodore
Robert, ¶¶ 1-2, ECF No. 106. In 2004, the Plaintiff
began his career in law enforcement by joining the Benton
Harbor Police Department as a patrol officer. Id.
¶ 2. Throughout his tenure as a police officer, the
Plaintiff volunteered at various civic organizations such as
the Boys and Girls Club of America. Id. ¶ 46.
at the Benton Harbor Police Department, the Plaintiff
received certification through the Michigan State Police
D.A.R.E./T.E.A.M. division as a School Resource Officer (SRO)
and became an SRO. Id. ¶ 3. An SRO is a police
officer who assists with school security, mentors students,
and teaches students about criminal justice issues. Decl. of
Crittendon, ¶¶ 7-8, ECF No. 94-3. The Plaintiff
remained an SRO until he resigned from the Benton Harbor
Police Department in 2006. Decl. of Theodore Robert, ¶
November 2006, the Plaintiff joined the SBPD as a police
officer. Id. ¶ 1. On July 6, 2010, the Board of
Public Safety, which is an administrative agency responsible
for disciplining SBPD police officers, reprimanded the
Plaintiff and suspended him for thirty days without pay. Dep.
Exs., pp. 22-23, ECF No. 94-2. The Board found that, on May
30, 2010, the Plaintiff used excessive force when he
“threw a single punch to [a] handcuffed subject's
face which caused a laceration to the subject's
November 2011, the Plaintiff applied for an SRO position with
the SBPD. Decl. of Crittendon, ¶ 6, ECF No. 94-3.
Officer Antonio Pacheco, who is Latino, also submitted an
application. Id. ¶ 15. A white police officer
and an African American police officer also applied for the
position. Id. Interviews for the SRO position were
conducted in December 2011 by Lieutenant Eric Crittendon,
Captain Young, and Division Chief Steve Richmond.
Id. ¶ 16. Crittendon, who is African American,
was the supervisor of the SRO program and the lead person on
the interview panel. Id. ¶¶ 2, 12. Captain
Young and Division Chief Richmond, who are white, assisted
with the selection process. Id. ¶ 12.
Ultimately, Officer Pacheco was selected for the vacant SRO
position. Id. ¶ 18.
the selection of Officer Pacheco, Lieutenant Crittendon
stated in his written declaration that Officer Pacheco
“had experience in schools as a special education
teacher and coach” and “spoke some Spanish-a
significant advantage given the need to serve the . . .
Latino student population.” Id. ¶ 19.
Lieutenant Crittendon also stated that Officer Pacheco
“displayed a positive, kind manner that . . . would
resonate well with school-aged children.” Id.
Crittendon stated that he “was generally aware that
[the Plaintiff] had served a suspension the year before
(i.e., 2010) for punching a handcuffed suspect at the county
jail.” Id. ¶ 21. Lieutenant Crittendon
noted that it was “critically important that SBPD not
have heavy-handed officers in schools.” Id.
Lieutenant Crittendon considered “how it would look if
I put an officer in schools who had a history of punching a
suspect. If something happened, how could I-or the
City-explain that? This information suggested to me that [the
Plaintiff] was not the best applicant for the job.”
Lieutenant Crittendon concluded that Officer Pacheco
“was the best qualified candidate for the November 2011
SRO vacancy. My recommendation was based on his application,
experience, temperament, language skills, and interview
performance.” Id. ¶ 24. He further
stated: “[My] colleagues on the panel agreed with my
conclusions and recommendation. I communicated the
recommendation to Chief Boykins, who approved it.”
Id. ¶¶ 24, 25. Darryl Boykins, who at time
was the SBPD Chief of Police, stated that he approved the
panel's recommendation without any independent review of
the applications and appointed Officer Pacheco to the SRO
position. Decl. of Darryl Boykins, ¶ 9, ECF No. 94-4.
Chief Boykins is African American. Id. ¶ 2.
October 19, 2015, the Plaintiff resigned from the SBPD. See
Pl.'s Resp. Br. in Opp'n to Def.'s Am. Br. for
Summ. J., p. 1, ECF No. 104. On February 8, 2016, the
Plaintiff pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of excessive
use of force which arose from ...