Doxtator v. O'Brien, No. 21-2101 (7th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Green Bay Police Department officers arrested Tubby and transported him to jail for booking. In the jail’s secure entryway, Tubby became non-compliant, refusing to exit the squad car and concealing one hand under his shirt while threatening to “do it” if officers came any closer. The officers called for backup. Tubby was eventually forced out of the car with pepper spray. He kept one hand under his shirt in a manner that, to officers, indicated he had a weapon. Exiting the squad car, Tubby refused to surrender but instead rushed toward the exit in an apparent escape attempt. An officer heard a “pop” that he believed to be a gunshot coming from the weapon he presumed Tubby was hiding and discharged his firearm eight times, hitting Tubby with five shots. Tubby died. His estate filed suit, 42 U.S.C. 1983.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The officer’s conduct did not violate Tubby’s constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable seizures; qualified immunity shields the officer from liability. The officer’s conduct was reasonable, given that Tubby intentionally led the officers to believe he was armed and ready to “do it.”