Horton v. Pobjecky, No. 17-1757 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Michael, age 16, and three other young men attempted to rob a Rockford pizzeria at gunpoint. Pobjecky, an off‐duty police officer waiting for a pizza, shot and killed Michael. Video recordings captured part of the incident, which involved a struggle for a gun. Michael’s participation in the struggle was disputed. He was apparently crawling when Pobjecky shot him. Wounds showing that three bullets entered Michael’s back contradict Pobjecky’s claim that he shot as Michael advanced toward Pobjecky. All three surviving assailants were convicted of felony murder. The district court rejected, on summary judgment, claims by Michael’s estate. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, concluding Pobjecky’s use of deadly force was reasonable and justified and did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Pobjecky did not know that Michael was unarmed; he was in close quarters with multiple, moving, potentially armed assailants, who forced him to make split‐second, life‐or‐death decisions. The incident lasted only about 45 seconds from the moment the first assailant entered the pizzeria to the moment Pobjecky locked the door. It was objectively reasonable for Pobjecky to stay inside the locked pizzeria awaiting help. It would be objectively unreasonable to demand that he venture into the night with an empty gun, risking further onslaught, to administer treatment to Michael.