PYKA v. VILLAGE OF ORLAND PARK No. 92-C-7888.
906 F.Supp. 1196 (1995)
Pamela and Richard PYKA, individually and as administrators of the Estate of Christian Pyka, deceased, and Danielle Pyka, individually, Plaintiffs, v. The VILLAGE OF ORLAND PARK, and Chief Charles Rabideau, Police Officers Timothy McCarthy, Michael Loewe, Patrick Duggan, Jeffrey Cavender, Sgt. Charles Doll and Sgt. Kenneth Slewoski, individually and in their official capacities, Defendants.
United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division.
November 8, 1995.
Sheldon Lee Banks, Law Office of Sheldon L. Banks, Chicago, IL, Joseph Vincent Roddy, Law Office of Joseph V. Roddy, Chicago, IL, for Pamela Pyka, Richard Pyka, individually, and as administrators of the Estate of Christian Pyka, deceased est Christian Pyka, Danielle Pyka, individually.
Eugene Kenneth Friker, Richard T. Wimmer, Dennis G. Walsh, James Vincent Ferolo, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., Chicago, IL, for Village of Orland Park, Charles Rabideau, Chief, Timothy McCarthy, Michael Loewe, Patrick Duggan, Robert M. Piantanesi, Jeffrey Cavender, Michael Muller, Donald Hartsock, Police Officers, Charles Doll, Kenneth Slewoski, Sgts., Thomas Lynch, Individually, James Dowling, III, John Mattes, Commanders, William Gaides, Christina Leach, Phyllis Krisik, Dispatchers, individually and in their official capacities.
I. BACKGROUND ..........................................................1203 A. The Evidence .....................................................1203 1. Autobiographical Information ..................................1203 2. The Accident ..................................................1203 (a) Lyle Healy's Version ......................................1203 (b) Officer McCarthy's Version ................................1204 (c) Officer Loewe's Version ...................................1204 (d) Officer Duggan's Version ..................................1205 3. Events In The Lock-Up .........................................1205 (a) Lyle Healy's Version ......................................1205 (b) Officer McCarthy's Version ................................1206 (c) Officer Loewe's Version ...................................1207 4. Events In The Cell Block ......................................1207 (a) Officer McCarthy's Version ................................1207 (b) Officer Loewe's Version ...................................1208 (c) Telecommunications Officers' Versions .....................1208 (i) Officer Bill Gaides ..................................1208 (ii) Patricia Kowalski ....................................1209 5. Eyewitness Testimony ..........................................1209 (a) Officer Piatanesi's Report ................................1209 (b) Detainee Padin's Statement ................................1210 (c) Officer Hartsock's Testimony ..............................1210 (d) Sgt. Doll's Testimony .....................................1210 (e) Paramedic's Testimony .....................................1211 6. Expert Testimony ..............................................1211 7. Autopsy Report ................................................1211 8. The Videotape .................................................1212 (a) Booking Process & Field Sobriety Tests ....................1212 (b) The Take-Down .............................................1212 (c) Post-Take-Down Occurrences ................................1213 (d) Events At Time of Pyka's Death ............................1214 II. DISCUSSION .........................................................1214 A. Summary Judgment Standards ......................................1214 B. Analysis ........................................................1214 1. Count I: Excessive Force .....................................1215 (a) Qualified Immunity .......................................1215 (i) Scope of Discretionary Authority ...................1216 (ii) Constitutional Violation ...........................1217 (iii) Clearly Established Law ............................1219 (b) A Split of Authority .....................................1219 (i) The Circuit Court Decisions ........................1219 (ii) The District Court Decisions .......................1220 (iii) The Suicide Cases ..................................1222 (iv) Seventh Circuit Law ................................1222 (c) The Merits ...............................................1223 (i) Officer McCarthy ...................................1225 TABLE OF CONTENTS
(ii) Officer Loewe ..........................................1226 2. Count II: Refusal of Bail .......................................1227 3. Count III: Punishment ...........................................1228 4. Count IV: Failure To Provide Medical Care .......................1230 5. Count V: Municipal Liability ....................................1230 6. Proximate Cause .................................................1231 7. Motion for Judgment on The Pleadings ............................1232 III. CONCLUSION ..........................................................1233
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On November 8, 1991, four years ago today, Christian Pyka ("Pyka"), an eighteen-year old youth in police custody, committed suicide by hanging himself from the bars of his cell with his t-shirt. Pyka's parents, the representatives of his estate, and his sister Danielle (collectively the "plaintiffs"), have brought this tragic civil rights case
Pyka's death leaves many questions unanswered —answers that unfortunately only Pyka, himself, could have provided. Thus, most of these questions are destined to remain unanswered no matter how this lawsuit is ultimately resolved. The only clues to Pyka's mysterious death are the statements of the police personnel on duty, Pyka's friend, Lyle Healy, and Joseph A. Padin, a detainee housed in the cell next to Pyka's on the night Pyka died. There is also a videotape of the events that occurred at the station before Pyka was taken to his cell.
This evidence is highly circumstantial, largely disputed and, for the most part, inconclusive. Competing inferences can therefore be drawn from the material facts. To the extent that the facts are undisputed, reference to the Rule 12(M) and (N)(3)(b) Statements will be made.
A. The Evidence 5
The parties present strikingly different versions of the events that occurred on the night of November 8, 1991, in their depositions and in the other exhibits submitted to the court. This evidence is summarized below. We begin with some autobiographical data.
1. Autobiographical Information
On November 8, 1991, Officer Timothy McCarthy, a former staff sergeant in the U.S. Army from 1967-1970 and a Vietnam Veteran with several commendations, worked in the Orland Park Police Department's traffic division as an accident reconstructionist. McCarthy Dep. at 5-6. At the time of the accident, Officer McCarthy was approximately six foot two inches tall, about 210-215 pounds and testified that he was in fairly good shape. Id. at 7. He also had completed several years of college and graduated from the police academy. Id. at 6.
Conversely, on the night he died, Christian Pyka was 18 years old, about five foot five and approximately 117 pounds. Teas' Autopsy Report, Pls.' Ex. D; McCarthy Dep. at 7 (putting Pyka at about 140-150 pounds). Pyka also had been taking classes at Moraine Valley Community College and "talking about getting more serious and going full time that evening...." Healy Dep. at 10. Pyka, the son of divorced parents, Pamela and Richard Pyka, had one sister, Danielle, and was well-liked by his friends. P. Pyka's Dep. at 39-40. There is no evidence by anyone who knew Pyka that he had ever mentioned the desire to commit suicide; nor is there evidence that he had been troubled before his death. Healy Dep. at 9-10; P. Pyka Dep. at 41-42.
Lyle Healy, one of Pyka's closest friends, was with Pyka on the night he died. Healy was several years older than Pyka, Healy Dep. at 7, and when asked to describe the basis for the friendship, stated: "we were close.... Probably hung around almost on a daily basis as kind of like — not necessarily a big brother, little brother thing, but it was kind of like I watched out for him a little bit." Id.
2. The Accident
(a) Lyle Healy's Version
Lyle Healy was with Pyka on the night he died, riding as a passenger in the Chevy Blazer Pyka was driving. Id. at 21. Healy testified that it was a cold and icy night. Id. at 18. As they were driving to a friend's house, they hit a large patch of ice and began sliding toward the intersection. Healy Dep. Exh. 1 at 1. When the Blazer hit a thawedout area in the street, the car slid to the other side of the street, hit the curb and tipped the Blazer onto its passenger side. Id. Healy testified that Pyka had his seat belt on, and when he released the belt to free himself from his seat, he fell onto Healy. Id. The two then exited the Blazer through the driver side door. Id. After the car turned on its side, Healy checked Pyka for injuries and "found absolutely no cuts, abrasions or bruises on Chris, whatsoever, ..." Id. at 2.
While Healy and Pyka were checking each other for injuries, two of their friends, Tom Hum and Oscar Thorson, drove up in Thorson's car. In a statement prepared the day after the accident, Healy describes the rest of the scene as follows:
Id. at 3. At the time of the accident, Healy believes that Pyka was wearing jeans, a sweater and a jacket. Healy Dep. at 19.
(b) Officer McCarthy's Version
At about 9:00 p.m., on November 8, 1991, Orland Park Police Officer Timothy McCarthy arrived at the scene. 12(M) ¶ II.A.4. Officer Duggan approached Officer McCarthy and advised him that the Blazer had crashed; there were two subjects inside the vehicle who were out of the vehicle; and the driver had been Christian Pyka. McCarthy Dep. at 22. McCarthy then approached Pyka, who was leaning against the back of a squad car. Id. Pyka immediately volunteered that he was the driver. Id. In McCarthy's words, "[w]hen Pyka was identified as the driver ... there was a separation. I took Pyka away from Healy." McCarthy Dep. at 23.
Officer McCarthy then "took control of the accident." 12(M) ¶ I-A (1-4); McCarthy Dep. at 13. McCarthy checked Pyka for injuries at the scene and found that Pyka had no apparent bruises on his body, facial or otherwise. 12(N)(3)(b) ¶ I-A (1). But see McCarthy Dep. at 91 (where he subsequently remembered seeing an abrasion on his forehead that he attributed to the accident). McCarthy then began to interview Pyka, who he observed was "suffering from the influence, ... of alcohol or some substance." Id. at 25. McCarthy claims that a confrontation with Pyka began when McCarthy asked Pyka for his drivers' license. Id. at 35-36. When Pyka refused to give McCarthy the license or his name, McCarthy Dep. at 35, and began to talk loudly and say obscene things, McCarthy Dep. at 27-34, McCarthy placed Pyka in handcuffs and put him in the back of his squad car. Id.; 12(M) ¶ II.A.8. McCarthy decided to arrest Pyka because he believed that Pyka had been driving while intoxicated. Id. at 26-27; 12(M) ¶ II.A.7. McCarthy also stated: "in my opinion he [Pyka] understood completely what was going on ... he knew exactly what I was asking him." Id. at 34-35.
Following the investigation at the rollover scene, Healy and Pyka were transported to the Orland Park Police Department, 12(M) ¶ I-A (5), in separate cars. Loewe Dep. at 18; McCarthy Dep. at 23, 36. Pyka was with McCarthy, and Healy was with Loewe. Id. McCarthy testified that it took approximately 5 minutes to drive Pyka from the scene of the accident to the police station. McCarthy Dep. at 29; 12(M) ¶ II.A.12.
(c) Officer Loewe's Version
On November 8, 1991, Officer Michael Loewe also arrived at the scene of the accident. 12(M) ¶ II.A.4. The driver, later identified as Christian Pyka, was talking to Officer
(d) Officer Duggan's Version
Officer Duggan recalls that he arrived at the scene of the accident first, 12(M) ¶ II.A.4, identified Christian Pyka as the driver and then conducted a preliminary investigation into the accident, finding no serious injuries. Id. When Officer McCarthy arrived, he advised him that the Blazer had crashed; there were two subjects inside the vehicle who were now out of the vehicle; and the driver had been the subject who was later identified as Christian Pyka. Duggan Dep. at 24; McCarthy Dep. at 22. Duggan then transferred the investigation to McCarthy. Duggan Dep. at 22. Although Officer McCarthy testified that Pyka was leaning against the back of Duggan's squad car when he arrived, Officer Duggan recalls that when Officer McCarthy arrived, he went to the rear of Duggan's squad car, opened the door and removed Pyka from the back seat. Duggan Dep. at 24. McCarthy then conducted a pat down of Pyka at Duggan's squad and cuffed him at that time to be placed in McCarthy's vehicle. Id. Duggan also remembers that Officer Loewe found some alcohol in the Blazer, Duggan Dep. at 20-21, and that he did not see Pyka resisting arrest. Duggan Dep. at 24-25.
3. Events In The Lock-Up
(a) Lyle Healy's Version
In a written statement, made on November 9, 1991, Lyle Healy testified that he observed the following events as he entered the lock-up the previous night.
In his deposition, taken nearly three years later, Healy testified that he observed substantially the same events when he arrived at the police station on the night of Pyka's death. When asked to describe the chokehold, Healy stated: "[McCarthy] came up, spun him around, and put his arm around his neck ... he was holding him a round-like one arm in front of his neck and one arm behind his neck like choking around his neck." Id. at 28-29. According to Healy, McCarthy and Loewe then "got him to the ground, they handcuffed him, they picked him up, they both kind of carried him over [to the cell area].... I know it didn't seem like he was all that willing to go there, but he wasn't fighting or anything like that. He was pretty much subdued." Id. at 31. Healy then saw McCarthy and Loewe take Pyka into the cell area, id., and Pyka said, "Lyle, call my mom" and "shouted the number" to him. Id. at 37. Healy then heard one of the officers say "you are not getting out of here tonight, kid." Id. Healy also said he heard (but could not see) "voices and slapping noises." Id. at 33. For instance, Healy recalls that McCarthy said, "don't fuck with me, you don't know what you got yourself into," and Pyka replied, "hit me again, cop, come on and hit me again." Id. at 32. According to Healy, McCarthy then "came out — enraged came out and ran up to me, got in my face, and said your friend is his own worst enemy and he is lucky we don't kill him." Id. at 61.
(b) Officer McCarthy's Version
Officer McCarthy's version of the events of November 8, 1991, is as follows. McCarthy testified that when he arrived at the station with Pyka, he removed the handcuffs from Pyka's back, had him sit on a bench, and then cuffed one hand to the bench and began the paperwork necessary to process Pyka's arrest. McCarthy Dep. at 48. McCarthy then prepared a "probable cause to arrest" report. In the report, McCarthy indicated that Pyka was intoxicated, uncooperative, combative and abusive at the scene. 12(N)(3)(b) ¶ I-A (6). McCarthy then began to administer field sobriety tests. 12(M) ¶ II.A.14. McCarthy Dep. at 13. McCarthy testified that Pyka was joking around and not taking the tests seriously, id. at 56, so he sat Pyka down. Id. McCarthy reported that Pyka failed the tests because he did not follow the instructions McCarthy gave him. 12(M) ¶¶ II.A.13-14; 12(N)(3)(b) ¶ I.B.1. Id. at 59. The breathalyzer test was then given to Pyka, which he also failed. 12(N)(3)(b) ¶ I.B.1.
Pyka then asked to make a phone call and, according to McCarthy, was told "he could call as many people as he wanted." McCarthy Dep. at 63. McCarthy remembers that
(c) Officer Loewe's Version
Officer Loewe also testified that he did not believe that the handcuffs were put back on to Pyka's wrists too tightly. Loewe Dep. at 80. Loewe's version of the lock-up events, however, does not match Officer McCarthy's in all respects. For instance, Officer Loewe testified that he gave McCarthy the evidence (alcohol) he found in the Blazer. Loewe Dep. at 26. Loewe also recalls seeing Pyka perform the field sobriety tests and observed Pyka fall off the line several times, while he "exaggerat[ed] his walk with a high step." Id. at 33. Loewe also testified that Pyka was "screaming and yelling" during the heel to toe test and as he sat on the bench, id. at 35, 38, and that Pyka gave McCarthy the finger while he was sitting on the bench. Id. at 41.
When Pyka finished the breathalyzer, Loewe remembers that Pyka asked to make a phone call and to bond out. Id. at 38. McCarthy then told Pyka that he would need $300 to bond out and could call someone to bring some money to the station. Id. When Pyka approached the table to use the phone, he swore at McCarthy and dialed a number. Id. at 40. According to Loewe, Pyka "was yelling and screaming at McCarthy. He was yelling and screaming at the person on the phone. He was taking the phone from his ear back and forth to McCarthy yelling on the phone." Id. Loewe recalls that McCarthy advised Pyka "a couple times" to "Keep [his] mouth down." Id. Pyka, however, continued to yell, scream and "wave the phone around." Id. at 41. Loewe later clarified that "waving the phone around" meant that Pyka was taking the receiver from his mouth to talk to McCarthy and then placing it near his mouth to talk to the person on the other end of the phone. Id. at 42.
When Pyka did not respond to McCarthy's direction to stop screaming, McCarthy stood up, said "Okay, that's enough. Give me the phone." Id. at 44. McCarthy then walked to Pyka, who said "I'm not through yet." Id. McCarthy then grabbed for the phone. Id. Pyka "pulled the phone back up ... in a motion, it looked, to strike Timmy with the phone. It looked like he came forward." Id. According to Loewe, McCarthy then put both of his arms around Pyka to restrain him, and Loewe and McCarthy both grabbed Pyka's arm that held the phone. Id. at 47. Loewe then put the phone back on the hook. Id. Loewe remembers that Pyka was only in a restrained position for "seconds." Id. McCarthy then put Pyka on the floor and they cuffed him. According to Loewe, Pyka was resisting getting placed into handcuffs and never stopped moving around. Id. at 49-50. He and McCarthy then escorted Pyka to his cell, where there was a "houseful of prisoners." Id.
4. Events In The Cell Block
(a) Officer McCarthy's Version
McCarthy testified that the following events occurred in the cell. Pyka was placed in the cell at about 10:00 p.m., on November 8, 1991. Defs.' Ex. E. The cell door was open. McCarthy Dep. at 82. McCarthy and Loewe entered the cell with Pyka. Id. McCarthy then "stood him [Pyka] inside the cell and ... removed his property from him[,]" McCarthy Dep. at 81, while he was
McCarthy then remembers speaking to Pyka's father, Richard Pyka, who called McCarthy after the conversation with Sherman. Id. at 96-97. Mr. Pyka had questions about the arrest. McCarthy explained that his son was acting up and was calming down in the cell so that he could be processed. In McCarthy's words, "I wasn't going to force Mr. Pyka to be processed nor was I going to beat him into being processed, so I thought it best that Mr. Pyka come about a half hour, 45 minutes later to pick his son up and not to come before then because he wouldn't be processed until the next crew came on." McCarthy Dep. at 97 (emphasis added). McCarthy then finished his paperwork, which is the bond information sheet, about 11:15 p.m. or so, and then went off duty. Id. at 94. Before Pyka, McCarthy had never arrested a person who committed suicide while in detention. 12(M) ¶ II.B.15.
(b) Officer Loewe's Version
Loewe testified that the following events occurred in the cell. Once inside the cell, McCarthy had Pyka lay face down on the bed while Loewe removed Pyka's shoes. While Loewe was removing the shoes, Officer McCarthy "took the belt and his earring and some—everything off of him." Loewe Dep. at 63. Loewe further indicated that Pyka was not fully clothed, id. at 62,
(c) Telecommunications Officers' Versions
Once in the hallway leading to the individual cells, the movements of Pyka, McCarthy and Loewe were not visible to Healy but were monitored by a camera that flashed images and sounds to several telecommunication officers in the radio dispatch (telecommunications) room of the Orland Park Police Department. Pls.' Ex. C. On duty at the time Pyka was led to his cell were: Officers Bill Gaidis and Phyllis Krisik. Id. Also present was Patricia H. Kowalski, a student intern from St. Xavier College who was specializing in Industrial/Organization Psychology. Id.
(i) Officer Bill Gaides
Telecommunication Officer Bill Gaides made (or failed to make) the following observations that night. On November 9, 1991, Gaides recalls watching Pyka take field sobriety
(ii) Patricia Kowalski
In an investigative report, Patricia Kowalski, a student intern who happened to be observing from the telecommunications room on the night Pyka died, stated that she observed the events in the police station from the time that Officer McCarthy and Pyka entered the lock-up until the time when Pyka was placed in his cell. In her opinion, Pyka appeared to be tense and angry, but Officer McCarthy maintained his professional reserve. In particular, she observed that when Pyka took a field sobriety test he started to high kick as a European soldier would do. Pls.' Ex. C. At that point, other radio transmissions came into the room, and Officer Gaides reached up and turned the volume off the camera. Id. However, during the altercation between McCarthy and Pyka concerning the phone, she observed that Officer Gaides turned on the audio volume. Id. According to Kowalski, Pyka sounded abusive. Id. Kowalski then observed both McCarthy and Loewe escort Pyka to a cell. Id.
When Pyka and the officers entered the cell, Kowalski observed the following events.
Pls.' Ex. C.
5. Eyewitness Testimony
(a) Officer Piatanesi's Report
Officer Piatanesi told the investigating officer that he arrived at the Orland Park Police Department at approximately 10:50 p.m. At approximately 11:20 p.m., after finishing a report, Sgt. Slewoski asked him to check the prisoners. 12(M) ¶ I.C.6. According to Officer Piatanesi, he went to the male side of the lock-up and looked at the cards, noting that there were three prisoners. Aff. of Piatanesi at 2. Officer Piatanesi then physically looked at each prisoner, noting the following: in the first cell, a male Hispanic was laying on his back and looked up at him; in the second cell, a male Hispanic [was] laying on his side, who also looked up at him; and in the third cell, the male white was lying on his stomach facing out at the bars with his hands at his sides and his shirt draped over his head. Id. The male white picked up his head, looked at Officer Piatanesi, and laid his head back down. Id. Officer Piatanesi then returned to the card rack, signed the cards, and left the area, returning to patrol. Pls.' Ex. A.
(b) Detainee Padin's Statement
A prisoner housed in the cell next to Pyka's recounts a similar story.
Pls.' Ex. B (emphasis in original).
(c) Officer Hartsock's Testimony
Officer Hartsock found Pyka hanging from his cell bars at approximately 12 midnight on November 9, 1991. According to Hartsock, he "ran back to secure his weapon, ... called on [his] portable for assistance, for a supervisor, and ran back again and got the keys to the cell block."
(d) Sgt. Doll's Testimony
When Sgt. Doll responded to the radio transmission for help, he found two or three officers huddled inside and outside Pyka's cell. He remembers that Officer Cavender motioned for him to come down to the cell where Officer Hartsock was present. Doll Dep. at 17. The cell door was open and Pyka was still hanging from his cell bars. Id. Doll then checked his carotid pulse, started checking the radial pulse and sent somebody to notify the on-duty watch commander (Sgt. Slewoski) and summon the paramedics' assistance. Id. Doll found no pulse and determined that Pyka was ice cold. Id. at 18.
(e) Paramedic's Testimony
Lt. Steve Smith is a firefighter and was one of the paramedics who arrived at the police station on November 8, 1991. 12(M) ¶ II.J.1. The call to respond came about one minute after midnight on November 9, 1991. Id. at 2. Smith was told that there was a "DOA" at the department location. Upon his arrival, he found Pyka's body propped against the cell bars. Id. at 3. He immediately conducted five "rounds" of CPR breathing, but found no response. Id. at 4. At no time from the time of his arrival through the time he left Pyka at the hospital did he detect a pulse, blood pressure rate or respiratory count. Id. at 5. In reviewing his EMS report, he confirmed that he detected Pyka's body as having a "warm" temperature which he noted on the report. Id. at 6. It was Lt. Smith's opinion that Pyka was cyanotic ("bluish in color") when he arrived at the scene and that Pyka was in full cardiac arrest at the time. Id. at 7.
6. Expert Testimony
The testimony of various Orland Park Police Department personnel reveals that there was no effort by the Village of Orland Park to train its police officers or personnel with respect to suicide prevention or detection. 12(M) ¶ III.A. Plaintiff's expert, Joseph R. Rowan, concentrates in the area of suicide detection and prevention. 12(M) ¶ IV.A.1. Rowan testified that Pyka should have been strictly supervised because he was inebriated. Id. at 4. Although Orland Park Police Department General Order G89-8 requires officers to place inebriated persons in a cell which is subject to "strictest supervision," id. at 4, "strictest supervision" is not defined. According to Rowan, "strictest supervision" requires a police department to respond to a prisoner in need of medical treatment or CPR within four minutes of notification. This standard is not applicable to or required by police departments in Illinois. Id.
Mr. Rowan further stated that Illinois does not have a standard which prevents audio monitors from being turned down by dispatchers. Id. at 10. In fact, Rowan acknowledged that the Illinois Jail and Municipal Lockup Standards do not require video monitoring at all. Id. at 9. Rowan also acknowledged that there is no statute, rule or regulation that requires Illinois local municipal law enforcement agencies or police officers to immediately administer CPR upon a body. Id. at 12. Defendants' expert, Thomas Walton, also agrees that there is no requirement that CPR be administered in a case like this one. Suppl. 12(M) ¶ II.A.2. Rowan further acknowledged that there is no statute or mandate that requires local law enforcement agencies to undertake suicide awareness training. Id. at 19. Thus, although Rowan indicated that Pyka displayed six or seven of the twenty plus "symptoms" which characterize suicidal tendencies, id. at 20, the police officers on duty when Pyka died were not responsible for recognizing these symptoms, absent some affirmative knowledge that Pyka was at risk. Id. at 24. Rowan also acknowledged that the only problem regarding medical treatment with respect to the hanging incident was the "failure to provide CPR." Id. at 6. For instance, medical services were offered to Pyka following the rollover car incident, but Pyka refused treatment. Id. at 7. Walton also testified that Pyka was not denied proper medical treatment at the rollover scene because he refused it. Id. at ¶ II.B.1.
7. Autopsy Report
Pyka's injuries at the time of death were recorded by the coroner, Dr. Shakus S. Teas, who performed an autopsy. In the autopsy report, Dr. Teas verified that Pyka weighed only 117 lbs., and noted that Pyka sustained multiple bruises and several wounds on the night of his death. For example, there was, among other injuries, a circumferential groove with abrasions;
8. The Videotape
Fortunately, in this case, there is a videotape of some of the events that took place in the lock-up on the night of November 8, 1991. Unfortunately, the audio on this video is virtually undiscernible and the visual acuity of the tape is extremely poor. There are also activities that cannot be seen given the angle of the camera in relation to the physical positions of the parties. This videotape, however, is objective evidence, establishing that the testimony of Lyle Healy and Officer McCarthy is fairly accurate, while the statements of Officer Loewe are not. The Court has viewed this tape at least seven times and made the following observations.
(a) Booking Process & Field Sobriety Tests
The following chronological summary is an outline of the events that occurred in the lock-up on the night of November 8, 1991.
(b) The Take-Down
The following chronological summary outlines the events leading up to and concluding with Officer McCarthy's take-down of Pyka
(c) Post-Take-Down Occurrences
The following chronological summary outlines the events that occurred after the take-down and after Pyka was led to his cell.
(d) Events At Time of Pyka's Death
Ironically, the audio—which is virtually undiscernible —stops at 11:18:14 p.m. The rest of the tape is a view of an empty lock-up area until 11:58:57 p.m., when Officer Hartsock enters the room and walks into the cell block. At 11:59:09 p.m., Officer Hartsock walks (not runs) back into the lock-up (in a very calm manner) and picks up the phone under the desk and makes a phone call. At 11:59:30 p.m., Hartsock hangs up the phone and walks back to the cell.
Then, a surprising event happens: at 11:59:45 p.m. the tape is cut and does not pick back up again until 12:04,51 p.m., when we see at least three officers milling about. Shortly thereafter, at 12:05:16 p.m., paramedics enter with a stretcher from the door through which Pyka entered the station approximately three hours earlier. The estimated time of Pyka's death was 11:58 p.m. Thus, during the six to seven minutes when Officer Hartsock is apparently "running back and forth" from the cell to the lock-up, the videotape is unreviewable—those minutes lost like Pyka.
A. Summary Judgment Standards
Summary judgment is proper only if the record shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue for trial exists only when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
"The first inquiry in any § 1983 suit" is "to isolate the precise constitutional violation with which [the defendants] are charged." Baker v. McCollan,
Once the constitutional violations are identified, the Court's threshold inquiry is whether the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity for their alleged conduct. The issue of qualified immunity is a threshold question in any summary judgment motion because "the purpose of an objective qualified immunity inquiry is to avoid unnecessary burdens on government officials by more frequent use of the summary judgment tool...." Rakovich v. Wade,
The plaintiffs in this case seek to hold several of its police officers liable in their individual and official capacities for Pyka's death under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish that a defendant is liable in his or her individual capacity under § 1983, "it is enough to show that the official, acting under color of state law, caused the deprivation of a federal right." Kentucky v. Graham,
The plaintiffs have not offered any evidence of a policy or custom behind the alleged deprivations of Pyka's constitutional rights. The defendants are therefore entitled to immunity in their official capacity on all counts. The question is whether the defendants are entitled to immunity in their individual capacity. We will begin with the legal standards relevant to that question and address the issue of qualified immunity, together with the merits, within the framework of each count, taken seriatim.
1. Count I: Excessive Force
(a) Qualified Immunity
In Harlow v. Fitzgerald,
The issue of qualified immunity is a pure question of law. Mitchell v. Forsyth,
The determination of whether an official is entitled to qualified immunity proceeds in two steps. The defendant must first show that he or she was acting within the scope of discretionary authority at the time of the alleged conduct. Once this is shown, the plaintiff must prove that the official's conduct violated clearly established law. The Seventh Circuit typically breaks this question down into two parts: (1) does the alleged conduct set out a constitutional violation? and (2) were the constitutional standards clearly established at the time in question? See Wade v. Hegner,
In Rakovich, the Seventh Circuit framed the test as follows:
850 F.2d at 1204. See also Estate of Starks v. Enyart,
In Count I, the allegedly unconstitutional conduct includes the following acts. The plaintiffs claim that Officers McCarthy and Loewe used excessive force by:
(i) Scope of Discretionary Authority
The first question is whether defendants have established that the alleged take-down by Officer McCarthy was within the scope of this officer's discretionary authority. To make this showing, Officer McCarthy "must demonstrate objective circumstances which would compel the conclusion that his actions were undertaken pursuant to the performance of his duties and within the scope of his [or her] authority." Sweatt v. Bailey,
The evidence shows that the take-down did not involve "beating an arrestee," which is
(ii) Constitutional Violation
As outlined above, the Seventh Circuit divides the question of whether a clearly established constitutional right has been violated into two parts: (1) whether the right alleged was clearly established; and (2) whether the right alleged was violated by the conduct at issue. The determination of whether
Triad Associates, Inc. v. Robinson,
The "violation" aspect of the immunity question requires analysis of whether a reasonable police officer in the defendant's position could believe that his or her actions were lawful. Anderson, 483 U.S. at 640, 107 S.Ct. at 3039; Klein, 847 F.2d at 374; Green, 826 F.2d at 652 n. 4. After careful review of the undisputed facts in this case, we believe that no reasonable officer in Officer McCarthy's position could believe that the force used during the take-down was lawful under the Fourth Amendment in light of the circumstances present at the time.
The Fourth Amendment guarantees citizens the right "to be secure in their persons ... against unreasonable seizures" of the person. U.S. Const.Amend. IV. "[T]he `reasonableness' of a particular seizure depends not only on when it is made, but also on how it is carried out." Graham v. Connor,
Pyka was an arrestee protected by the Fourth Amendment at the time that Officer McCarthy grabbed him by the neck, held him in a chokehold and forced him to the floor. This "seizure" was part of the continuing seizure that began when Officer McCarthy cuffed Pyka, put him in the squad car and brought him to the police station. Consequently, the constitutionality of the take-down conduct is subject to the Fourth Amendment's "reasonableness" standard.
Reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment is judged by an objective standard. Id. 490 U.S. at 387, 109 S.Ct. at 1867. Alleged violations of the Fourth Amendment against police officers must therefore be assessed by asking "whether the officers' actions [were] `objectively reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation." Id. In making a reasonableness determination, the Court must balance the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment
In Graham, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the right to make an arrest "necessarily carries with it the right to use some degree of physical coercion or threat thereof to effect it." Id. 490 U.S. at 396, 109 S.Ct. at 1872. The Court must therefore look to the facts and circumstances of each case, including the severity of the crime, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is resisting arrest or attempting to flee. Id. A court must also adopt the "perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene [of the arrest]," and it must understand that "`not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge's chambers ...' violates the Fourth Amendment." Id. 490 U.S. at 396, 109 S.Ct. at 1872 (quoting Johnson v. Glick,
The question whether a particular action is objectively reasonable, in light of the facts and circumstances confronting the defendant, is a question of fact rather than a question of law when "the court finds itself unable to discern a clear answer" to "the question whether or not particular conduct falls below the applicable standard required by the law — such as the reasonableness of the use of force in this case." Roundtree v. City of New York,
After watching the videotape of Officer McCarthy's take-down and applying the objective reasonableness standard, this Court finds itself more than able to discern a clear answer to the question whether the particular conduct at issue falls below the applicable standard required by the law. Officer McCarthy's conduct clearly does fall below this standard because a reasonable police officer, in the defendant's position, would not believe that the amount of force used during the take-down was lawful under the Fourth Amendment.
The videotape clearly shows that Pyka, almost docile throughout the entire booking procedure, was merely standing at a table making a phone call. Although it appears that Pyka may have started screaming into the phone at his mother (and may have made an offensive gesture in Officer Loewe's direction), there was no sign of physical aggression or violence by Pyka, despite testimony by Officers McCarthy and Loewe that Pyka raised the phone receiver back and away from his head like a weapon when McCarthy attempted to take it out of his hand. Rather than using the phone as a weapon against McCarthy, the videotape indicates that Pyka was merely trying to pull the phone away from McCarthy, who in turn was trying to grab it from him. However, even if Pyka was trying to hit McCarthy with the phone, McCarthy clearly had Pyka under control when Loewe took the receiver out of Pyka's hand and placed back on the hook. In fact, the phone was on the hook before McCarthy grabbed Pyka around the neck, twisted him in a 180 degree spin, dragged him across the floor and held him in a chokehold. This continuing use of force was clearly excessive given that any legitimate law enforcement reasons for the initial physical restraint of Pyka vanished once the phone was taken out of Pyka's hand and Pyka ceased struggling in resistance to the restraint.
(iii) Clearly Established Law
For this Fourth Amendment right to be "clearly established,"
Anderson, 483 U.S. at 640, 107 S.Ct. at 3039 (citation omitted).
On November 8, 1991, the most recent case issued in the Seventh Circuit held that the Fourth Amendment reasonableness standard governed all acts of force against a person held in custody from the time of the initial seizure until the time of conviction. See Titran v. Ackman,
(b) A Split of Authority
Although we could stop here for purposes of deciding the question of immunity, the merits of this case ultimately require a more in-depth analysis of whether the Fourth or the Fourteenth Amendment protects a person held in custody after an initial seizure but before a formal arraignment or probable cause hearing. There is a serious split of authority in the circuits on this issue and unexplainable ambiguity in the Seventh Circuit. We address this split in the context of the immunity question, not for purposes of determining which law was clearly established at the time of the alleged violation— that much is clear—but because this Court's determination of Count I on the merits depends upon our resolution of this question. We therefore proceed to that analysis.
(i) The Circuit Court Decisions
In Graham v. Connor, the Supreme Court stated: "Our cases have not resolved the question whether the Fourth Amendment continues to provide individuals with protection against the deliberate use of excessive physical force beyond the point at which arrest ends and pretrial detention begins, and we do not attempt to answer that question today." 490 U.S. at 395 n. 10, 109 S.Ct. at 1871 n. 10. This open question has generated a split of authority in the circuit courts and an ambiguous position in the Seventh
The majority of circuits addressing this question have concluded that the Fourth Amendment protects a suspect from the point of the first seizure or arrest until pretrial detention begins. The determination of when pretrial detention begins, therefore, is critical. According to the majority of circuit courts, pretrial detention begins when a suspect is arraigned or formally charged and ends when the suspect is acquitted or convicted. See Powell v. Gardner,
(ii) The District Court Decisions
There are also several well-reasoned district court decisions on this point. See e.g., Sweatt, 876 F.Supp. at 1576 (district court applied Fourth Amendment to arrestee who claimed excessive use of force when officer beat him while he was talking on the telephone); Gonzalez v. Tilmer,
In Henson v. Thezan,
In Henson, the district court, familiar with the issue of whether the Fourth or the Fourteenth Amendment applied to claims of excessive force after arrest but before formal charge, see Jones, 700 F.Supp. at 970-971, found that the Supreme Court's decision to leave this question open in Graham permitted the court to once again hold that the Fourth Amendment's reasonableness standard, rather than the Fourteenth Amendment's substantive due process analysis, applied to the facts of that case. Most of the district court's opinion attempted to show why Wilkins, issued one month before Graham, was inconsistent with the decision in Graham and therefore of questionable authority. The key to the Henson rationale, and the one this court believes is ultimately persuasive, is as follows:
Id. at 1334-35.
(iii) The Suicide Cases
These cases stand in stark contrast to a number of district court cases in this circuit and beyond involving pre-charge detainee suicides ("suicide cases"). In the suicide cases, courts typically do not mention the Fourth Amendment cases outlined above. But see Jones, 700 F.Supp. at 970-71. Instead, in the majority of suicide cases, courts have strictly applied the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause by reasoning that the arrestee was "in custody" and therefore "detained."
Under the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause "deliberate indifference," rather than the Fourth Amendment's reasonableness standard, governs. In cases where the detainee commits suicide, courts have generally held that the deliberate indifference standard was met only when a defendant's knowledge regarding a detainee's prior suicidal tendency was established. See Hall v. Ryan,
Similarly, in other cases, the mere existence of a suicidal past was not enough to prove deliberate indifference where none of the correctional officers had actual knowledge of the detainee's suicidal history. See Smith v. City of Joliet, No. 90 C 5522, 1993 WL 18981 at *1 (N.D.Ill. Jan. 28, 1993); Hinkfuss v. Shawano County,
Further, in Camic, the Seventh Circuit was influenced by the fact that the police did take some precautions against suicide by removing the detainee's belt and shoelaces. Therefore, the defendants in Camic were not deliberately indifferent to the possibility that the detainee might take his own life, even if they failed to follow all of the jail's procedures regarding the monitoring of prisoners, such as checking the cells every hour.
The Camic decision has been relied on heavily by other district courts in this circuit to determine what constitutes deliberate indifference to the risk of suicide by a pretrial detainee. See Smith, 1993 WL 18981, at *5 (detainee's "uncooperative, sometimes freaky manner" was not enough to alert the officers that he might attempt suicide); Brooks v. City of Chicago, No. 88 C 8609, 1992 WL 373034, at *4 (N.D.Ill. Dec. 8, 1992) (fact that detainee was belligerent and intoxicated "is not synonymous with having reason to know that he was suicidal"). In this case, like Smith, there is simply no evidence that the defendants had any subjective knowledge that Christian Pyka would commit suicide while detained alone in his cell. Pyka did not
The Camic decision would control the Court's analysis in this case, if it were not for an important distinguishing factor, namely, the fact that Camic did not address the Graham question but assumed, without explanation or citation, that the person arrested was a pretrial detainee protected by the Fourteenth rather than the Fourth Amendment at the time of the suicide. Although the Graham issue has been assumed, rather than raised, in this case too, this Court cannot blindly apply a Fourteenth Amendment due process standard—simply because others have done so—given our understanding of the authority that applies a Fourth Amendment reasonableness standard to conduct that occurs after the initial arrest but before a formal charge or probable cause hearing.
(iv) Seventh Circuit Law
The state of Seventh Circuit law regarding this issue, however, is ambiguous. One month before Graham issued, the Seventh Circuit held in Wilkins, 872 F.2d at 194, that the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause protects a suspect once the arrest or "first seizure" is complete until conviction. In other words, pre- and post-charge detention is covered by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause not the Fourth Amendment. Conversely, approximately one year after Graham, the Seventh Circuit held that the Fourth Amendment applies to all claims arising from the time of arrest until conviction. Titran, 893 F.2d at 147. The court in Titran, however, cited Wilkins with approval—apparently for the proposition that the arrest ends at the point where the booking process is complete, i.e., where the "administrative steps incident to arrest" are over. See Gerstein v. Pugh,
Titran's application of a Fourth Amendment reasonableness standard to the period of detention after the initial arrest really muddies the waters. See Stewart, 776 F.Supp. at 1306 (N.D.Ill.1991) (noting that Seventh Circuit has sent mixed signals on issue of whether Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment applies to period immediately after arrest but before a formal charge but following Titran and applying a Fourth Amendment standard to claim of excessive force by arrestee beaten while in holding cell). Although Titran and Wilkins speak with one voice about where to draw the line between arrest and detention, they argue for the application of entirely different constitutional standards. Neither case, in this Court's view, is consistent with the Supreme Court's decisions in Graham and Bell, nor with each other.
In Garcia v. City of Chicago,
Id. at 975.
Rejecting Justice Ginsburg's statements as "dicta in an otherwise narrow substantive due process case," Judge Cudahy nonetheless goes on to make his own revolutionary pronouncement that "the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against `unreasonable' seizures is coextensive with the Fourteenth Amendment's prohibition against deprivations of liberty without due process." Id. (citing Justice Blackmun's dissent in Albright as his only source of authority for that statement).
The Garcia concurrence is instructive because it implies that, in the Seventh Circuit, the Fourth Amendment has always applied to conduct occurring after arrest and before the Gerstein hearing. Id. (citing Wilkins and Villanova). We have already observed that Wilkins does not specifically draw a "bright line" at the Gerstein hearing. Id. Rather, in Wilkins Judge Posner drew the line for Fourth Amendment protection at the end of the "first seizure." In Villanova, however, Judge Posner retreats from Wilkins and finds that "the Fourth Amendment governs the period of confinement between [warrantless] arrest ... and the preliminary [Gerstein] hearing at which a determination of probable cause is made, while due process regulates the period of confinement after the initial determination of probable cause." Villanova, 972 F.2d at 797. According to Villanova, it will be important for district courts to ask first whether a person was arrested pursuant to a warrant, and if not, whether this person has been formally charged at a preliminary hearing. Id. The constitutional standard to be applied to conduct occurring during this period depends upon the answers to those questions.
The majority of circuit courts appear to be resolving the question in favor of applying the Fourth rather than the Fourteenth Amendment to conduct that occurs after the initial seizure or arrest but before a formal hearing before a neutral judicial official. In the absence of any clearer authority from the Seventh Circuit to the contrary, and after careful consideration of the facts in this case, the Court finds that the defendants' conduct on the night Pyka died should be judged by a Fourth Amendment reasonableness standard. Pyka was never formally charged nor was he brought before a neutral judicial officer for a probable cause determination (i.e., the arrest, assuming it was supported by probable cause, was still warrantless). Thus, this Court will apply a Fourth Amendment reasonableness standard in this case for the simple reason that Pyka was protected by the Fourth Amendment under the clearly established law in this circuit on the night of his death. See Titran, 893 F.2d at 147-48.
(c) The Merits
(i) Officer McCarthy
Having determined that the Fourth Amendment reasonableness standard applies to Officer McCarthy's use of force to take-down Pyka, the remaining question is whether this finding effectively requires the Court to enter summary judgment for the plaintiff on the underlying Fourth Amendment claim. The Seventh Circuit has held that "if it is clear that the defendant's conduct did violate clearly established norms, the case must proceed to trial." Green, 826 F.2d at 652. This statement makes sense only in light of the legal fiction that the qualified immunity question and the merits of the underlying claim are "conceptually distinct," Mitchell, 472 U.S. at 527-28, 105 S.Ct. at 2816. In this case, our finding that the force used was clearly excessive for purposes of denying qualified immunity, easily leads us to conclude that the force used by Officer McCarthy was also a substantive violation of the Fourth Amendment for purposes of deciding the merits of Count I. However, since the question of reasonableness, although governed by an objective standard, is disputed in this case, we
The Court finds that the issue of reasonableness in this case cannot be decided as a matter of law, because "reasonable minds could differ" on the issue of whether the force used was excessive. For instance, a reasonable juror may conclude from watching the videotape that Pyka attempted to use the phone receiver as a weapon before Officer McCarthy engaged in the take-down. Further, as indicated in the factual summary of this opinion, there are conflicting versions of what happened prior to and during that incident.
Although this Court has grave doubts about the reasonableness of the force displayed on the videotape, we simply believe that the most prudent course is to allow the trier of fact to judge the objective reasonableness of Officer McCarthy's conduct on November 8, 1991. Thus, although qualified immunity is denied to the defendants based on the legal determination that Officer McCarthy's take-down conduct was objectively unreasonable, the disputed questions of fact regarding the objective reasonableness of this conduct, for purposes of deciding liability and damages, will proceed to a determination on the merits by the trier of fact.
(ii) Officer Loewe
The preceding discussion only resolves the issue of whether Officer McCarthy is potentially liable in his individual capacity for a Fourth Amendment violation. We have found for purposes of qualified immunity that he is. The Court must still, however, determine whether Officer Loewe is entitled to qualified immunity and potentially liable for a Fourth Amendment violation. This determination is made more difficult because the Amended Complaint is poorly pled. For example, plaintiff's counsel has failed to recognize that while the facts do not support a finding that Officer Loewe used excessive force against Pyka, the facts do support a failure to intervene claim, a theory that has not been pled at all.
In Yang v. Hardin,
In this case, the videotape clearly shows that Officer Loewe not only had a realistic opportunity to intervene—and thus prevent the continued restraint of Pyka after the phone was removed from his hand—but Officer Loewe also had "reason to know" that the force used to restrain Pyka exceeded the amount necessary to simply restrain him, take the phone out of his hand and prevent either the disruption that arose from the phone conversation or the possibility that Pyka was going to hit Officer McCarthy with the phone receiver. Officer Loewe was in clear view of the event, helped Officer McCarthy take the phone out of Pyka's hand, and then turned his back and walked out of the room while Officer McCarthy continued to hold Pyka around the neck, drag him across the floor and hold him down. Although it appears that Officer Loewe was removing his gun from his holster and checking it at the door before approaching Pyka and McCarthy, it is not clear why Officer Loewe felt it was necessary to walk out of the room at that particular moment. Any danger from being in the lock-up with a loaded gun and two uncuffed detainees was present before the take-down began. Thus, the decision to check his gun (if that is what he was doing) at the moment that Officer McCarthy was restraining Pyka, raises the inference that Officer Loewe simply did not want to stand by and watch or intervene to prevent the continued restraint.
The immunity question is whether this "failure to intervene" was objectively reasonable under the circumstances. The Court has already held that a reasonable officer in
The Court finds that a reasonable officer in these circumstances would have said more or done more to prevent the continued restraint. A reasonable officer, unlike Officer Loewe, would not have walked out of the room at the precise moment that Officer McCarthy began choking Pyka around the neck and dragging him across the floor simply because Pyka may have been screaming and making offensive gestures moments earlier. The Court therefore finds that Officer Loewe is not entitled to qualified immunity.
Like the excessive force claim against Officer McCarthy, however, we find that the underlying Fourth Amendment claim against Officer Loewe, characterized by this Court as a "failure to intervene" rather than an excessive force claim,
To summarize, the Court has found that the Fourth Amendment reasonableness standard applies to the defendants' conduct alleged in Count I. Officer McCarthy is denied qualified immunity for his take-down of Pyka and Officer Loewe is denied immunity for his failure to intervene and therefore prevent the take-down. The denial of immunity is based on the Court's review of the undisputed facts and the videotape. This review has led us to conclude that a reasonable officer, reviewing the same evidence, would find that Officer McCarthy's use of force was excessive and that Officer Loewe's failure to intervene was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances. The merits of the Fourth Amendment violations alleged in Count I, however, must be decided by the trier of fact because genuine issues of material fact exist with respect to whether the defendants' conduct was objectively reasonable.
2. Count II: Refusal of Bail
In Count II, the plaintiffs allege that Sgts. Doll and Slewoski together with Officers McCarthy, Loewe and Cavender did not process Pyka for bail in a timely fashion or allow Pyka's bail to be posted in a timely fashion, despite at least two telephone calls— one from Pyka's friend Todd Sherman and one from Pyka's father, Richard Pyka—before 11:58 p.m., the estimated time of Pyka's death. The defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on this count because the right to make bail, unlike the right to be free from excessive force, is not a constitutional right, and even if it is, it was not clearly established on November 8, 1991.
The "right to bail" has never been established as a fundamental constitutional right under federal law. The United States Supreme Court refused to decide the issue in 1982. See Murphy v. Hunt,
The Seventh Circuit has not decided the question either. In Faheem-El v. Klincar,
Regardless of whether a separate cause of action can be brought when a police officer refuses to allow a detainee to make bail, the constitutional right to bail was not clearly established on the night of Pyka's death. The absence of an express judicial finding that a fundamental right to bail exists, in the Eighth Amendment or elsewhere, requires this Court to grant the defendants qualified immunity for the conduct alleged in Count II. Summary judgment will therefore be granted in favor of defendants on this count.
3. Count III: Punishment
In Count III, the plaintiffs allege that Officers McCarthy and Loewe violated Pyka's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from pre-trial detention constituting punishment. In particular, plaintiff's claim that the autopsy of Pyka's body reveals multiple abrasions and bruises that reflect the infliction of corporal punishment by means of pushing, grabbing, striking, choking, and restraining Pyka.
The Court has held that the Fourth rather than the Fourteenth Amendment governs the actions taken by the defendants while Pyka was in their custody. Under the Fourth Amendment, the acts of violence alleged in Count III must be judged by an objective reasonableness standard. After a review of the record, we find that the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity for some of the conduct alleged to be unconstitutional in Count III.
First, the take-down conduct alleged in Count I subsumes the grabbing and choking conduct alleged in Count III, and is duplicative. We therefore will not address that conduct under Count III. The next issue is whether the allegations of pushing Pyka and restraining him in handcuffs violates the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court has held that "`not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge's chambers ...' violates the Fourth Amendment." Graham, 490 U.S. at 396, 109 S.Ct. at 1872 (citing Johnson, 481 F.2d at 1033). The Court finds that the allegations of pushing are underdeveloped and cannot constitute the basis for a cognizable constitutional violation because there is no evidence from which the court could conclude that a reasonable officer would believe that this conduct, if it occurred, was unlawful. Defendants are therefore entitled to immunity for the pushing allegations.
There is also not enough evidence to support a constitutional claim based on the alleged verbal abuse, threats and the removal of some (or all) of Pyka's clothing when he
The striking allegations, however, have more merit. For example, some of the abrasions and bruises on Pyka's body are unexplainable given the disputed facts in this case.
See Teas Dep. at 36. With respect to these injuries, Dr. Teas stated that the abrasion to Pyka's forehead was a recent injury and that the abrasions to the legs would have been caused by a blunt injury," for instance from a blow or a bump into a table. See id. at 52. Dr. Teas could not confirm the source of these injuries. Id. at 54.
The unexplainable nature of these injuries is highlighted by the fact that almost everyone deposed states that Pyka did not have any injuries after the car accident. This evidence leads us to conclude that the injuries were inflicted sometime after the Fourth Amendment seizure took place. Mere pushing, however, would not cause these abrasions and bruises unless Pyka was pushed against something, like a table or a bed. The abrasion on Pyka's forehead and the bruises to Pyka's legs are also not easily explainable. Although it is true that the take-down involved a brief struggle between Pyka and Officer McCarthy which resulted in Pyka's forehead being put against the floor during the cuffing, Pyka was never pushed against the table or hit with a blunt object. The videotape will show that the restraint imposed by Officer McCarthy, although excessive, would not have resulted in a "blunt injury" of the type found on Pyka's body after his death. At most, there might be bruises around his neck where Officer McCarthy choked him.
The unexplainable nature of these injuries raises a genuine issue of material fact because there is some evidence that Pyka was beaten or assaulted in some other way inside his cell. For instance, plaintiffs offer testimony by Healy who stated that he heard Pyka yell "hit me again cop!" following "slapping" noises. The defendants offer testimony
These allegations, however, must also be reviewed by the trier of fact to determine whether they are sufficient to support a Fourth Amendment violation against Officers McCarthy and Loewe in their individual capacity. Summary Judgment will therefore be denied on Count III only as to the "striking" allegations and the evidentiary basis for these allegations.
4. Count IV: Failure To Provide Medical Care
In Count IV, plaintiffs allege that Sgt. Doll, together with Officers McCarthy, Loewe, Duggan, Cavender are liable for failure to provide Pyka with necessary medical care while he was in their custody. In particular, plaintiffs allege that Officers McCarthy and Loewe ignored Pyka's agitation and mood changes which fit the profile of a potential suicide risk. Officers Duggan, Cavender and Sgt. Doll, on the other hand, are charged with the failure to perform lifesaving CPR when they found Pyka hanging. These failures, claim plaintiffs, were also the proximate cause of Pyka's death.
The defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on Count IV for the allegations related to their failure to provide necessary medical care and the contention that this failure was the proximate cause of Pyka's death. The entitlement to immunity stems from the fact that the defendants' alleged failures to provide CPR and to recognize Pyka's suicidal tendencies are not constitutional violations, let alone violations of clearly established constitutional rights, unless there is some evidence that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to Pyka's medical needs. See Hall, 957 F.2d at 404 (citing Estelle v. Gamble,
5. Count V: Municipal Liability
Plaintiffs also argue that the Village of Orland Park should be held liable for Pyka's suicide because it failed to train its police officers with respect to suicide detection or prevention. This claim against the Village is based on the theory that this training would have alerted the officers to the six or seven "symptoms" of suicidal tendencies described by plaintiffs' expert, allowing the officers to take measures to prevent the suicide.
A two prong inquiry must be made to determine if a failure to train claim is sufficient. First, it must be determined whether the failure to train constitutes a city policy which is the result of a "deliberate" or "conscious" choice made by a municipality. Id. 489 U.S. at 389, 109 S.Ct. at 1205. Second, there must be a direct causal link between the failure to train and the constitutional injury. Id. 489 U.S. at 391, 109 S.Ct. at 1206.
In Smith v. City of Joliet, Judge Plunkett made a thorough analysis of a failure to train claim in response to a motion to reconsider. No. 90 C 5522, 1993 WL 106814, at * 2 (N.D.Ill. April 7, 1993). See also Smith v. City of Joliet, 1993 WL 18981 at * 6-8 (granting motion for summary judgment). Judge Plunkett held that "the need for specialized training was not so obvious that the city's failure to procure it for its officers constitutes deliberate indifference." Smith, 1993 WL 106814, at * 2. He was persuaded by the fact that there had been only two previous suicide attempts at the jail over a course of many years and also by the fact that the officers did routinely take some precautions against suicides, such as removing shoelaces and belts at the completion of booking procedures and placing individuals who were feared to be suicidal in front cells. Id. Judge Plunkett also determined that the plaintiff had failed to prove causation, because, even if the officers had determined, as a result of training, that the deceased was a high suicide risk, it was unclear that the officers would have acted any differently. Id. at * 2-3.
In Hinkfuss v. Shawano County, the plaintiff alleged that the county had a policy of deliberate indifference to the right of detainees to medical attention, which was evidenced in the officers' lack of medical training. Hinkfuss v. Shawano County,
In this case, there is no evidence that the Village had a large suicide problem (despite Sgt. Doll's testimony that he had seen about 10 suicides prior to Pyka's, since there is no evidence that those 10 suicides occurred at Orland Park) that they were deliberately ignoring. Moreover, there were no statutes or municipal regulations requiring the officers to perform CPR or to take suicide awareness classes. Thus, the officers' failure to perform CPR and recognize that Pyka would commit suicide before it happened are not a basis for liability against the Village for failure to train and do not amount to an unconstitutional policy under Canton. Summary judgment will therefore be granted on Count V in favor of the defendants.
6. Proximate Cause
In Count VI, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants' conduct, as pled in Counts I-V, was the proximate cause of Pyka's suicide. Proximate cause, as defined in the Illinois Jury Pattern Instructions, is: "any cause which, in natural or probable sequence, produced the injury complained of. It need not be the only cause, nor the last or nearest cause. It is sufficient if it concurs with some other cause acting at the same time, which in combination with it, causes the injury." IPJI (Civil) § 15.01.
In Jones v. County of DuPage,
The allegedly unconstitutional conduct that could serve as a basis for a proximate cause finding in this case includes the take-down conduct by Officer McCarthy, together with Officer Loewe's failure to intervene. We have already indicated that there is a strong probability that the take-down by Officer McCarthy and the failure to intervene by Officer Loewe violated Pyka's Fourth Amendment right to be free from the excessive use of force. If the trier of fact comes to the same conclusion that this Court has reached, then the trier may also find that this conduct was a proximate cause of Pyka's suicide. This determination, however, as all proximate cause determinations are, is a factual determination reserved for the trier of fact. We will therefore submit this issue for trial. In addition, the disputed evidence of striking and slapping conduct, although tenuous evidence, may also—if it is found to violate the Fourth Amendment—provide a basis for a proximate cause finding. This issue, therefore, will also be submitted to the jury.
The real question is whether there is sufficient evidence to establish that these violations, if proven, were the proximate cause of Pyka's suicide. Detainee Padin's testimony is crucial to the plaintiffs' case in this regard. Detainee Padin's testimony is that Pyka feared for his life, and, in one instance, said to the officer that came into his cell to take off his belt, shoes and "something else": "Why don't you just kill me and get it over with?" After the officer left, Pyka then apparently said to Padin something like "why didn't he just make it easy for the police, and kill himself." Pls.' Ex. B. Although Padin's testimony is subject to a credibility assessment by the jury, this testimony, together with the videotape showing the take-down, failure to intervene, and subsequent actions or non-actions of the police officers certainly raises a reasonable inference that Pyka was afraid due to the physical force used on him that night by Officer McCarthy. A reasonable jury could conclude that this fear, triggered by the excessive use of force during the take-down, could have been the proximate cause of Pyka's suicide. However, that determination, of course, is a question of fact reserved for the trier of fact since this court merely sits to determine whether there is a sufficient factual basis to support such a finding. We find that such a basis exists and therefore will submit this issue to the jury. Summary judgment is therefore denied on Count VI.
7. Motion for Judgment on The Pleadings
Rule 12(c) provides the standard to be applied on a motion for judgment on the pleadings:
A Rule 12(c) motion may be submitted after the close of the pleadings to raise various Rule 12(b) defenses regarding procedural defects. See Alexander v. City of Chicago,
In their motion for judgment on the pleadings, the defendants argue that the plaintiffs' untitled claim for survivorship (Count VI), should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(c) because this case is brought by Pyka's parents for damages on behalf of Danielle Pyka, Christian Pyka's sister, in her individual capacity. Defendants argue that the Seventh Circuit does not permit siblings to recover in § 1983 cases for loss of society and companionship, Bell v. City of Milwaukee,
For the reasons given in this opinion, the individual defendants are entitled to qualified immunity for the conduct alleged in Counts II (refusal of bail) and IV (failure to provide medical care). Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Counts II and IV is therefore granted. In addition, the Village of Orland Park is not liable for the conduct alleged in Count V (municipal liability), and defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to that count is also granted. The Clerk of the Court is therefore directed to enter judgment in favor of the defendants and against the plaintiffs on Counts II, IV and V. Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to Count VI against Danielle Pyka is also granted, and the Clerk of the Court is further directed to enter judgment in favor of the defendants and against Danielle as to Count VI.
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Counts I (excessive force), III (punishment), and VI (proximate cause), however, is denied. The Court's review has demonstrated that genuine issues of material fact exist regarding whether Christian Pyka's Fourth Amendment right to be free from the use of excessive force was violated by Officer McCarthy's take-down conduct; Officer Loewe's failure to intervene to prevent the take-down; and the "striking" allegations pled against the two officers in Counts I and III. These issues will be submitted to the trier of fact because Officers McCarthy and Loewe are not entitled to qualified immunity, as a matter of law.
The plaintiffs are directed to file a Second Amended Complaint alleging a failure to intervene theory of relief against Officer Loewe in Count I within fourteen (14) days from the date of this order.
- No Cases Found