2 lawsuits against South Bend police dismissed
Im his order, U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen wrote that Dean and O’Connell’s claims were not supported by video surveillance cameras that captured the incident.
The video showed Morgan did not pull O’Connell out of the room by the throat, that O’Connell was moving toward Morgan when Morgan grabbed him by the shirt, and that Morgan did not throw Dean against the wall several times.
“At no time does the video show Officer Morgan punching or kicking either (Dean or O’Connell),” the judge wrote.
The judge also noted that the video showed the couple’s dog, an English bulldog, charged toward Morgan twice.
Dean and Werner claimed the surveillance video was edited and if shown in its entirety it would corroborate their account, according to court documents.
The judge said they presented no evidence to support that and he considered it to be “an uninterrupted portrayal of the encounter.”
The judge concluded: “The question is whether an officer’s conduct was objectively reasonable. Under the facts set forth by Officer Morgan and substantiated by the surveillance video, no reasonable jury could find the force excessive.”
The judge also disagreed with Dean and O’Connell’s claim that Morgan arrested them without probable cause.
He noted that Morgan had been sent to the hotel by police dispatch, and when he arrived found that an employee had been physically threatened by O’Connell. He also noted that both Dean and O’Connell’s behavior met statutory definition of resisting law enforcement.
Thus, the judge ruled, “a reasonable officer in his position would have believed that O’Connell and Dean committed criminal offenses under Indiana law.”
Staff writer Mary Kate Malone: