Turner v. City of Champaign, No. 19-3446 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Officers found Turner, a homeless Champaign man well-known to the police, on the ground, rolling around with his pants down, flailing his arms, and babbling unintelligibly, then walking back and forth across the street. Turner responded to the officers incoherently. They decided to detain Turner and send him to a hospital for mental health treatment. While waiting for the ambulance, Turner ran away. The officers gave chase. An officer grabbed Turner’s shoulder. A struggle ensued. Officers pulled Turner to the ground and turned him on his stomach. Struggling to restrain Turner, the officers determined that Turner was not breathing and rushed to get a portable defibrillator. Less than three minutes after the officers noticed that Turner was not breathing, the ambulance arrived. Paramedics rushed Turner to the hospital. He never regained a pulse. An autopsy later determined that Turner died from cardiac arrhythmia—his heart gave out after beating too fast during the encounter--likely caused by an underlying condition. Turner had an enlarged heart and insufficient blood supply to his heart’s chambers. There were no signs of suffocation or trauma to Turner’s body.
The district court dismissed a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, holding that the officers acted legally to detain Turner and used reasonable force in response to his resistance. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The question is not whether officers used best police practices but whether they violated Turner’s Fourth Amendment rights. The officers did not use excessive force.