United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Lajuana Lampkins as Administratrix of the Estate of Prince Akbar, Deceased Plaintiff,
Officers George Jones and Donielle Redwanc, and Calumet City, a Municipal Corporation, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JAMES B. ZAGEL, District Judge.
Plaintiff Lajuana Lampkins, as former administrator of Prince Akbar's estate,  brought this action against Officer George Jones, Officer Donielle Redwanc, and the City of Calumet City ("Defendants") alleging use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, conspiracy in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and failure to train in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The remaining claims are Illinois state law claims seeking damages on the following bases: wrongful death, the Illinois Survival Statute, and liability for the City of Calumet City based on respondeat superior. The case is presently before the court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, I grant Defendants' motion in its entirety.
I. STATEMENT OF FACTS
Shortly after 12:00 p.m. on January 4, 2010, Akbar entered Thornton Fractional School, located at 1605 Wentworth Avenue in Calumet City, while screaming and yelling that he was looking for the principal. School staff had difficulty escorting Akbar out of the building. After confronting a parent outside the school, Akbar stood in the middle of the street and attempted to waive down passing automobiles. Akbar then re-entered the school, stating that his God told him to come there and that he wanted to enroll. Akbar insisted that the staff let him use the phone, but was denied. Akbar then left the school again.
School staff called the police three times to report Akbar's frightening behavior. Officer Donielle Redwanc initially responded to the call. Officer Redwanc saw Akbar at approximately 167th and Wentworth, and pulled up beside him. "Redemption was yours. You are here to help me, " Akbar said. After advising dispatch that she needed a paramedic to perform a psychiatric evaluation, Akbar said "Never mind, you can't help me, " and began to walk away on the sidewalk. Officer Redwanc exited her squad car and started to follow him. Akbar turned around and told Officer Redwanc that he was bipolar.
Officer George Jones then arrived on the scene and parked his squad car behind Officer Redwanc's car. Both officers claim to have used a very calm voice when they spoke to Akbar. They told him that they were not going to hurt him and that paramedics were going to make sure that he was okay before they let him go. Akbar complied with their request to walk over to the squad cars.
Standing next to the squad cars, however, Akbar became agitated when Officer Jones began patting him down and yelled "No, no, no. Fuck the police." When Officer Jones attempted to put handcuffs on Akbar, he resisted by locking up his arms. Sensing that this was going to turn into a fight, Officer Jones deployed his only taser cartridge. This had no effect on Akbar. Akbar then punched Officer Redwanc in the face with a closed fist, knocking her to the ground. Lying on the ground, Officer Redwanc called for backup.
Officer Redwanc then stood up and deployed her taser. Unfazed, Akbar struck Officer Redwanc in the face again, knocking her into the squad car's side mirror. Akbar repeatedly punched Officer Jones in the face and knocked him to the ground. While Akbar punched Officer Jones on the ground, Officer Redwanc stood up and drew her gun, but did not fire because she was afraid that she would hit Officer Jones. Seeing the gun, Akbar turned towards Officer Redwanc and knocked the gun out of her hands. Akbar moved for the gun, but Officer Redwanc beat him to it with a slide, tucking the gun into her chest. Akbar began striking Officer Redwanc in the head, and slammed her head into the concrete several times.
Akbar then returned to Officer Jones and began punching him again. When Akbar returned to Officer Redwanc, Officer Jones drew his weapon. Akbar attempted to take Officer Jones' gun, but Officer Jones laid on top of it. When Akbar turned away and walked towards Officer Redwanc, Officer Jones rose to his knees and fired a round into the back of Akbar's leg and another round into Akbar's stomach. This ended the attack. Akbar was pronounced dead ten minutes after he arrived at the hospital. Both officers suffered a host of physical injuries that required physical therapy and multiple surgeries.
Testimony from numerous independent witnesses corroborates the officers' testimony regarding how severely Akbar had beaten them. One witness saw Akbar punching Officer Redwanc with alternating left and right punches while he was on top of her. He said that Akbar "was just whaling on her" and was "totally in control." Another witness saw Akbar "throwing haymakers right and left" at both officers. According to this witness, it never appeared as if either officer had Akbar under any type of control. This witness also testified that the two shots were roughly two seconds apart and that Akbar did not fall to the ground until after the second shot was fired.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Summary judgment should be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of triable fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, Ind., 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).
Once the moving party has set forth the basis for summary judgment, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party who must go beyond mere allegations and offer specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). The nonmoving party must offer more than "[c]onclusory allegations, unsupported by specific facts" in order to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 773 (7th Cir. 2003) (citing Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990)). A party will be successful in opposing summary judgment only if it presents "definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion." EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 233 F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir. 2000).
I consider the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and I draw all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Lesch v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 282 F.3d 467, 471 (7th Cir.2002). I will accept the non-moving party's version of any disputed fact, however, only if it is supported by relevant, admissible ...