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Forrest v. Prine

August 31, 2010


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 4:07-cv-04086-JAG-John A. Gorman, Magistrate Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ripple, Circuit Judge.


Before POSNER, RIPPLE and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

Roger Forrest brought this action against Officer Michael Prine and Rock Island County Sheriff Michael Huff, asserting, among other things, an excessive force claim against Officer Prine under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants. Mr. Forrest appeals only the dismissal of his excessive force claim against Officer Prine. For the reasons stated in this opinion, we affirm the judgment of the district court.



On March 8, 2007, the police responded to a 911 call from Mr. Forrest's son, who reported that Mr. Forrest was hitting people in their home. The police arrived and found Mr. Forrest to be uncooperative. The police forcefully entered the home, and an altercation ensued during which Mr. Forrest struck a police officer in the face. In order to subdue Mr. Forrest, the police employed a taser device several times. Several police officers then escorted Mr. Forrest to the Rock Island County Jail. Mr. Forrest ultimately was charged with aggravated battery of a police officer, a felony charge.

Rock Island County has a policy that any person charged with a felony is required to submit to a complete strip search as part of the booking process in order to ensure that no weapons or contraband are brought into the jail. This policy is meant to protect the safety of imprisoned individuals and officers in the jail. The strip search includes a visual body cavity search.

Mr. Forrest was escorted to a holding cell for the strip search. He estimated that between six and seven officers remained in the area. The officers observed that Mr. Forrest appeared to be under the influence of some-thing, possibly alcohol. Mr. Forrest removed most of his clothing, but refused to remove his underwear. Officer Michael Prine entered the cell with a taser and ordered Mr. Forrest to remove his underwear. Officer Prine had been trained in the use of tasers. Although he had not arrested Mr. Forrest earlier that evening, Officer Prine was aware that a taser already had been employed several times on Mr. Forrest during the course of the arrest. Officer Prine warned Mr. Forrest that he would employ the taser if he did not comply with the strip search commands. Mr. Forrest called the officers "faggots" and used other expletives. See Forrest Dep. 48:19-22, Oct. 22, 2008; Prine Dep. 33:23-25, Oct. 22, 2008.

Mr. Forrest eventually removed his underwear but would not comply with the rest of the strip search commands. Shouting obscenities and with fists clenched,*fn1

Mr. Forrest began pacing back and forth while facing Officer Prine. Mr. Forrest never approached Officer*fn2

Prine and remained 7-10 feet away. Over the course of several minutes, Officer Prine repeatedly told Mr. Forrest that unless he complied with the strip search commands, the officer would use the taser. Officer Prine testified that he did not believe it was safe to approach Mr. Forrest any closer.

Officer Prine finally employed the taser on Mr. Forrest. The officer held the taser with both hands, outstretched from his body. The officer testified that he aimed the taser gun at Mr. Forrest's upper back. Another police officer, Christopher Young, testified that, at some point during the events, he saw the taser's laser sighted on Mr. Forrest's torso. A third officer, Michael Mendoza, testified similarly, clarifying that the laser was sighted "chest to waist." Mendoza Dep. 54:11, Mar. 23, 2009. Mr. Forrest testified that the taser was pointed at his face, although he could not see the red dot of the taser's laser. He told Officer Prine to get the taser out of his face. Forrest Dep. 46:24-47:11, Oct. 22, 2008.

Officer Prine testified that, as he fired the taser, Mr. Forrest "kind of bent down." Prine Dep. 64:13-16, Oct. 22, 2008. Officer Young testified that Mr. Forrest "ducked down and turned just as the taser was deployed." Young Aff. 2, June 23, 2009. Officer Mendoza testified that Mr. Forrest made some kind of unusual movement, "almost like a ...

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