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Conley-Eaglebear v. Miller

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

May 30, 2016

ERIC S. CONLEY-EAGLEBEAR, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANK MILLER, ROB RASMUSSEN, and KURT WAHLEN, Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND JUDGMENT (DKT. NO. 80)

          Hon. Pamela Pepper United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, a Wisconsin state prisoner, is representing himself. He filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C §1983, claiming that defendant City of Racine Police Officer Frank Miller used excessive force when he shot the plaintiff, that defendant City of Racine Police Officer Rob Rasmussen directed or acquiesced in the use of excessive force, and that defendant Racine Police Chief Kurt Wahlen failed to properly train his officers. Dkt. No. 8. On February 17, 2016, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, and granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 75. Judgment was entered on February 18, 2016. Dkt. No. 76. The plaintiff has filed a motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e).

         1. Standard of Review

         “Rule 59(e) allows a court to alter or amend a judgment only if the petitioner can demonstrate a manifest error of law or present newly discovered evidence.” Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 494 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Sigsworth v. City of Aurora, Ill., 487 F.3d 506, 511-12 (7th Cir. 2007)). A “manifest error” is a “wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent.” Oto v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). Further, “[m]otions under Rule 59(e) cannot be used to present evidence that could have been presented before judgment was entered.” Obriecht, 517 F.3d at 494. Whether to grant a motion to amend judgment “is entrusted to the sound judgment of the district court.” In re Prince, 85 F.3d 314, 324 (7th Cir. 1996).

         2. Parties’ Arguments

         The plaintiff contends that the court should have given him an opportunity to properly support his facts instead of omitting so many facts from Plaintiff’s Proposed Findings of Fact that failed to cite to the record. Dkt. No. 80 at 2. He asserts that these omitted facts demonstrate that “there is a genuine dispute as to material fact entitling him to judgment as a matter of law.” Dkt. No. 80 at 3.

         Specifically, the plaintiff contends that the court erroneously failed to consider his allegations that he was shot in the back. Dkt. No. 80 at 3-4. He also states that the medical records “absolutely support Plaintiff’s assertion that his back was facing Miller when Miller shot him twice; Plaintiff’s ‘side was [not] facing Miller in a bladed fashion.’” Dkt. No. 80 at 4. The plaintiff cites to defendant Rasmussen’s statement that “when defendant Miller shot the plaintiff, he never saw a firearm in the Plaintiff’s hand, and the Plaintiff’s back was facing the defendants.” Dkt. No. 80 at 4. Finally, the plaintiff contends that the court should not have relied on Helman v. Duhaime, 742 F.3d 760 (7th Cir. 2014). He argues that Helman is distinguishable because, unlike the suspect in that case (who was shot by a police officer while reaching for his gun), in this case Miller and Rasmussen were not on the scene for the purpose of arresting the plaintiff, because the plaintiff was not a suspect to a crime when the officers arrived.

         In response, the defendants contend that the plaintiff has not met the legal requirements for a motion to alter or amend judgment under Rule 59(e). According to the defendants, the plaintiff’s failure to follow federal and local rules relative to summary judgment motions is not a reason to alter or amend the court’s judgment. Dkt. No. 82 at 2.

         The defendants also contend that the court did not commit a manifest error of law in its consideration of admissible facts to supports its decision and order. They state that, contrary to the plaintiff’s contention that the court should have considered evidence that he was shot in the back while running from the police, and that the plaintiff had discarded his gun prior to being shot, the court did find that the plaintiff was shot in the back, citing evidence provided by the plaintiff. Dkt. No. 82 at 4. The defendants further note that the court cited to the plaintiff’s evidence that the officer observed two entry wounds in his shoulder and buttock, and that the medical reports state there were two wounds in the back of his body. Id.

         The defendants also state that the plaintiff has not provided evidence that defendant Miller had subjective knowledge that the plaintiff had discarded his gun at any time before he shot the plaintiff. Id. Rather, the admissible evidence supports the fact that defendant Miller saw evidence that the plaintiff had a gun before shooting the plaintiff. Id.

         In addition, the defendants contend that the court’s reliance on Helman was not erroneous, “given the Plaintiff’s admission that he had a firearm tucked in his waistband underneath his shirt while walking and being observed by Defendant Miller, and the barrel of the gun was located at his knee.” Dkt. No. 82 at 5. According to the defendants:

The admissible evidence unrefuted by Plaintiff is that during Defendant Miller’s foot pursuit of Plaintiff, the Plaintiff made an extremely exaggerated draw motion with his right hand from his pants and Defendant Miller saw a gun in Plaintiff’s right hand . . .; and that Defendant Miller saw the Plaintiff with the gun in his hand, and rotating toward his direction . . . .

Dkt. No. 82 at 5-6.

         3. Court’s Summary ...


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