04 July 2009

Illinois Court Puts More Liability on Police

The courts - this time it's Diethard Beyer v. City of Joliet. The courts have effectively made police officers responsible for events that are beyond their control. Under the Domestic Violence Act, the courts have ruled that police are no longer immune from being held accountable for criminal acts that others may commit. Illinois police officers generally enjoy absolute immunity for failure to provide police protection, prevent the commission of a crime or to make an arrest.

That is now out the window.

So if you're on routine patrol and you cruise down a street and 5 minutes later someone is murdered, it's now on you: You didn't do your job, you didn't stop and listen to the sound of crickets on the block, you didn't drive fast enough to get there in time, you didn't cut paper because both parties were drunk and there were no visible injuries...etc.

Un-fucking-real.....Here's a snippet from the decision.

Trial court erroneously dismissed claim that the shooting death of a Joliet woman by her husband resulted from Joliet police officers' willful and wanton breach of their duties under the state Domestic Violence Act.

The 3d District Appellate Court has reversed a ruling by Will County Judge Edward F. Petka.

On July 20, 2004, Margaret Wilson called the Joliet Police Department several times to report that her husband, David Wilson, had threatened her with physical harm and mentally abused her by reminding her of the presence of guns in the house.

The police responded by visiting the Wilson home but each time they left without investigation or assistance to Margaret. The responding police officers were told that there weapons in the home but chose not to investigate even though they had unrestricted access to the home.

In the early morning hours of July 21, David Wilson shot and killed Margaret Wilson in their home. The administrator of Margaret Wilson's estate filed suit against the City of Joliet and several individual police officers, alleging that the decedent's death was the result of the defendants' willful and wanton breach of their duties under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss and the trial court granted the motion, finding that "in order to be a protected person under the [statute] a person must obtain an order of protection or take steps to obtain protection under the act."

On appeal, the decedent's estate argued that it had pleaded sufficient facts to establish that the decedent was a protected person under the statute. The appeals court said that Illinois police officers generally enjoy absolute immunity for failure to provide police protection, prevent the commission of a crime or to make an arrest.

However, the court said that in 1986, the General Assembly enacted the Domestic Violence Act, which provides a special-duty exception to governmental immunity ad specifically deals with cases in which public officials fail to protect victims of domestic violence.

Section 305 of the statutes limits law-enforcement liability to willful and wanton conduct, the court said. And the state Supreme Court has held that an injured party can recover under the statute provided that "the injured party can establish that he or she is a person in need of protection under the act, the statutory law enforcement duties owed to him or her were breached by the willful and wanton acts or omissions of law enforcement officers, and such conduct proximately caused plaintiff's injuries," the appeals court said.

The plaintiff contended that the decedent was a "protected person" under the statute even though she didn't have an order of protection. The plaintiff also argued that requiring a victim to obtain an order of protection in order to proceed under the statute is contrary to the express language of the statute. The plaintiff cited section 7, which states that when an officer has reason to believe that a person has been abused, neglected, or exploited by a family member or household member, the officer "shall immediately use all reasonable means to prevent further abuse, neglect or exploitation."

The appeals court agreed with the plaintiff that obtaining an order of protection is not a condition precedent to pursuing a claim under the statute. "Such a requirement would be contrary to the express language of the act and would defeat the legislative intent," the appeals court said.

The appeals court said that the Illinois Supreme Court has made it clear that in order to recover under the statute, a victim must first show he or she was in need of protection. In this case, the appeals court said that the plaintiff pleaded sufficient facts that would invoke the protections of the statute. The factual history of the case showed that the decedent called the police several times and explained the threats made by her husband.

Justice Daniel L. Schmidt wrote the court's opinion with Presiding Justice Mary K. O'Brien and Justice Robert L. Carter concurring. Released June 2.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Being a real COP has been dead for a long time now.Its open season on law enforcement everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Its about time, lets make the beat cops responsible for crime which happens on their beat. Most of these cops just sit on their hands doing nothing. They just whine about their contract. I hope with the new rating system they will hold the officers responsible for crime that occurs. Perhaps pay cuts instead of raises on your next contract. Cut those graft checks out too. (uniform,duty availability)

Rue St. Michel said...

Roscoe? Please start breaking your medication in half.

losers everywhere said...

Anonymous said...
Its about time, lets make the beat cops responsible for crime which happens on their beat. Most of these cops just sit on their hands doing nothing. They just whine about their contract. I hope with the new rating system they will hold the officers responsible for crime that occurs. Perhaps pay cuts instead of raises on your next contract. Cut those graft checks out too. (uniform,duty availability)

7:48 AM

Signed, a gay troll whose partner didn't use enough vaseline last night. Owie, my rectum!

Anonymous said...

Ho, Ho, Ho, Just wait till you see the deal your union is gonna get you for a contract. 2% raises and a removal of the duty availability checks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Ho, Ho, Ho, Just wait till you see the deal your union is gonna get you for a contract. 2% raises and a removal of the duty availability checks.

8:10 AM

Turn off your "Thriller" video and pull up your pants. Your tickets to the Michael Jackson memorial are ready.

Anonymous said...

How about making the arresting officers pay the court costs on cases that get thrown out in court? If they wish to save money in the County, they could start here.