430 F.3d 312 (6th Cir. 2005), 04-4489, Untalan v. City of Lorain

Docket Nº:04-4489.
Citation:430 F.3d 312
Party Name:Romeo V. UNTALAN, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of Ronnie C. Untalan; Corazon Untalan, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. CITY OF LORAIN, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:December 07, 2005
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 312

430 F.3d 312 (6th Cir. 2005)

Romeo V. UNTALAN, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of Ronnie C. Untalan; Corazon Untalan, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

CITY OF LORAIN, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 04-4489.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

December 7, 2005

Argued: Nov. 2, 2005.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland. No. 03-00205—Dan A. Polster, District Judge.

Page 313

ARGUED:

Paul B. Daiker, Zukerman, Daiker & Lear, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellants.

Todd M. Raskin, Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellees.

ON BRIEF:

Paul B. Daiker, Zukerman, Daiker & Lear, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellants.

Todd M. Raskin, Carl E. Cormany, Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellees.

Before: MARTIN, NELSON, and ROGERS, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

ROGERS, Circuit Judge.

This is a § 1983 action for the use of deadly force arising out of the fatal shooting by police of a schizophrenic who, seconds before being shot, attacked a police officer with a butcher knife. The Plaintiffs-Appellants in this case, Romeo and Corazon Untalan, are the parents of the decedent Ronnie Untalan. They seek to vindicate Ronnie's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment right not to be killed by the police. They are suing Lorain police officer Joseph Kopronica, who shot Ronnie, and the City of Lorain, for its alleged failure to appropriately train its officers. The Untalans appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Officer Kopronica on grounds of qualified immunity. Likewise, they appeal the dismissal of their suit against the City. The district court threw out the suit against the City because Officer Kopronica was found not to have violated the decedent's constitutional rights. We affirm the district court's judgment because no rational juror could find that Officer Kopronica violated the decedent's constitutional rights.

I.

On January 30, 2002, Ronnie Untalan, who suffered from schizophrenia, grabbed a butcher knife while at home with his mother, Corazon. Ronnie's actions alarmed Corazon. Corazon called 911 for help. Ronnie's father, Romeo, tried to calm Ronnie. After Corazon called the police, Ronnie used a waist-level cart to barricade himself in the kitchen. At about 10:42 p.m., Lorain police officers Gedling and Kopronica, responding to the call for help, arrived at the Untalans' home. Officer Kopronica stood near the kitchen doorway so that he could talk to Ronnie. Officer Gedling could see Ronnie through a rear window. Officer Kopronica began talking to Ronnie to defuse the situation. Next, Sergeant Wargo and Officer Wolford arrived at the residence. Officer Wolford joined Officer Kopronica near the kitchen door and participated in the conversation with Ronnie. The dialogue lasted about 45 minutes.

Ronnie then moved aside the cart that was blocking the door, and "lunged at Officer Wolford, who attempted to back out of the way." Ronnie stabbed Officer Wolford's upper-left side with the butcher knife. Officer Wolford then stumbled back and fell to the ground. Officer Kopronica did not see the knife go into Officer Wolford, but he did see Ronnie lunge at Officer Wolford with the knife. Next, Officer Wolford threw Ronnie, who fell onto the couch. According to the Untalans, Romeo tried to restrain Ronnie on the couch and the two men wrestled for control of the knife. While on the couch, Ronnie moved

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in a manner suggesting that he was trying to get up off of the couch. Believing that Ronnie was continuing his attack on Officer Wolford, Officer Kopronica drew his service weapon and fatally shot Ronnie once in the upper left chest area. According to Corazon, Ronnie did not have possession of the knife at the precise moment that he was shot. According to Romeo, he had just finished twisting the knife out of Ronnie's hand when...

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