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Helman v. Duhaime

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

February 6, 2014

GARY W. HELMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
BRUCE DUHAIME, et al., Defendants-Appellees

Argued: March 1, 2013.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division. No. 3:10-cv-00486-WCL-CAN -- William C. Lee, Judge.

For GARY W. HELMAN, Plaintiff - Appellant: Christopher C. Myers, Attorney, CHRISTOPHER C. MYERS & ASSOCIATES, Fort Wayne, IN.

For STEVE SMELTZLEY, Indiana State Police/Emergency Response Team Member, COREY CULLER, Sergeant, Indiana State Police/Emergency Response Team Member, BRUCE DUHAIME, Sergeant, Indiana State Police, KRISTOPHER COFFEY, Indiana State Police Trooper, Defendants - Appellees: Kathy Bradley, Attorney, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Indianapolis, IN.

Before ROVNER, WILLIAMS, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 761

Rovner, Circuit Judge.

Gary W. Helman brought an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants, law enforcement officers, violated his constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments by their conduct in executing an arrest warrant for him on April 9, 2009. In the course of events, Helman was shot multiple times, and he asserts that the defendants used excessive force. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, and Helman appeals.

Summary judgment is appropriate only if there is no genuine issue of material fact that could result in a favorable judgment to Helman. We take all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to Helman as the non-moving party, and review the decision of the district court de novo. Casna v. City of Loves Park, 574 F.3d 420, 424 (7th Cir. 2009).

On April 9, 2009, members of the Indiana State Police arrived at Helman's residence to execute warrants for his arrest. They spoke with his brother Michael Helman, and explained that they were there to arrest Helman, who was in the home with his mother. The officers hoped to negotiate a peaceful surrender. Michael Helman then spoke with Helman in the home before departing the residence. Around noon, Helman exited the home and spoke with United States Marshal Brent Cooper and Sergeant Duhaime concerning lawsuits that Helman had filed in federal court. In response to the officers' questions as to whether he was armed, Helman pulled up his shirt to reveal that he was wearing a.45 caliber semi-automatic handgun. Helman then handed paperwork to the officers and returned to his residence. The officers informed the other members of the Indiana State Police that Helman was carrying a loaded firearm.

A stalemate ensued for approximately 6 hours, after which time Helman again exited the house to meet with law enforcement officers. This time, as Helman walked into his backyard carrying water and a coffee cup in his hands, the Indiana State Police Emergency Response Team (the ERT) moved in behind Helman to prevent him from retreating again into his home. The ERT then activated a flash bang device to distract Helman. At this point, the sequence of events becomes less clear. According to the district court opinion, Helman turned in response to the commotion caused by the flash bang device, and upon seeing the ERT, attempted to draw his handgun. At that time, the officers fired shots at Helman, hitting him multiple times. Those facts, however, were identified by the district court as those supported by the defendants' evidence of record. But on a summary judgment motion by the defendants, we must take the facts and reasonable inferences in the light most

Page 762

favorable to the plaintiff. Helman asserts that when the flash bang device detonated, he turned but he did not reach for his weapon until after that device went off and shots were fired at him.

Subsequently, Helman was charged in state court with Resisting Law Enforcement under Ind. Code § 35-44-3-3.[1] Although resisting law enforcement is normally a Class A misdemeanor, Helman's use of a deadly weapon elevated it to a Class D felony. Helman pled guilty to that charge, acknowledging at the plea hearing that he " did knowingly or intentionally forcibly resist, obstruct or interfere with a law enforcement officer while the officer was lawfully engaged in ...


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