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Friday, August 14, 2015

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides two 4th Am. Indiana cases yesterday via a consolidated opinion

In the 30-page consolidated Aug. 13th opinion in Tyler Williams v. Indiana State Police Dept. and Nancy Brown v. Wayne Blanchard (SD Ind., Magnus-Stinson), Judge Rovner writes:

We have consolidated for decision these two appeals, heard on the same day, that present similar issues of law relating to the reasonableness of force under the Fourth Amendment. In both cases, family members called police officers to their home because a family member had locked himself in a room of his home and was threatening suicide. The officers responded to the distress call, but in both cases the situation tragically ended with the person’s death as a result of shots fired by the officers. Although we will discuss the facts in more detail later, the basic circumstances were as follows. In the case on behalf of the estate of Williams, the police officers were faced with a person, William E. Williams, who had locked himself in a bathroom, had taken all the Xanax left in a prescription bottle, and had cut himself and complained that it was taking longer than expected for him to bleed out. The officers had no good vantage point to see him in the second floor bathroom, and he repeatedly threatened to kill anyone who attempted to come into the bathroom. The officers unlocked the bathroom door and fired tasers at Williams, but those tasers had no effect. When Williams pursued the officers with a knife, the officers shot and killed him. In the case brought by Nancy Brown, John Brown had also cut himself, and was locked in his bedroom although his mother had a key and had come in and spoken with him. Officers could see him through the bedroom window. Shortly after arriving, an officer at the scene decided to kick the bedroom door in, and ultimately he fatally shot John Brown who also possessed a knife. On behalf of the deceased person, the plaintiffs in each case brought suit against the officers pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the officers used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment when they effected the seizure. * * * Affirmed.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 14, 2015 11:24 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions