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Civil Rights — excessive force

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Civil Rights — excessive force

Where a woman was intoxicated and the police reasonably believed she was suicidal, the police were properly granted judgment on her excessive force claim.

“Keeping in mind the same information that gave the officers probable cause for the seizure in the first place, the officers were now additionally confronted with an actively resisting individual. We have repeatedly upheld officers’ use of force in the face of suspects resisting arrest. See, e.g., Padula v. Leimbach, 656 F.3d 595, 603-04 (7th Cir. 2011) (affirming summary judgment for defendant police officers who used their batons to subdue an individual they believed to be resisting); Estate of Phillips v. City of Milwaukee, 123 F.3d 586, 593-94 (7th Cir. 1997); see also Graham, 490 U.S. at 396 (including as a consideration in excessive force analysis ‘whether [a suspect] is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight’). We acknowledge that this situation is somewhat different from a standard arrest case because Fitzgerald was not a criminal suspect, and she was not subject to arrest, but rather to civil seizure for self-protection. Recognizing that, however, we must also recognize that Officers Santoro and Cram used comparably less force than in some arrests we have upheld. See, e.g., Padula, 656 F.3d at 603-04; Estate of Phillips, 123 F.3d at 593- 94. The defendants here used minimally forceful techniques designed to subdue non-compliant subjects and prevent escalation. They did not strike or beat Fitzgerald; they did not attempt to completely disable her. The officers held her arm and wrist in a firm manner meant to induce cooperation. We think that those techniques were objectively reasonable given the circumstances here.”


12-1487 Fitzgerald v. Santoro

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Bucklo, J., Kanne, J.

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