44 F.3d 643 (8th Cir. 1995), 94-1256, Schulz v. Long

Docket Nº:94-1256.
Citation:44 F.3d 643
Party Name:Steven Paul SCHULZ, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. William LONG; Robert Vanalmsick; Col. Gilbert H. Kleinknecht; Frank C. Bick; Robert W. Flagg; Brainerd Latourette, Jr.; Joseph L. Mason; James Raymond; St. Louis County, Missouri; St. Louis County Police Department, Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:January 03, 1995
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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44 F.3d 643 (8th Cir. 1995)

Steven Paul SCHULZ, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

William LONG; Robert Vanalmsick; Col. Gilbert H.

Kleinknecht; Frank C. Bick; Robert W. Flagg; Brainerd

Latourette, Jr.; Joseph L. Mason; James Raymond; St.

Louis County, Missouri; St. Louis County Police Department,

Defendants-Appellees.

No. 94-1256.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

January 3, 1995

Submitted Sept. 12, 1994.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Thomas P. Howe, St. Louis, MO, argued (Henry B. Robertson, on the brief), for appellant.

Michael A. Shuman, Clayton, MO, argued, for appellees.

Before HANSEN, Circuit Judge, HENLEY, Senior Circuit Judge, and MORRIS SHEPPARD ARNOLD, Circuit Judge.

HANSEN, Circuit Judge.

Steven Schulz appeals the final judgment of the district court 1 granting several defendants summary judgment, granting one defendant judgment as a matter of law, and entering judgment on a jury verdict in favor of the remaining defendant in this 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 claimed use of excessive force case. Schulz contends that the district court erred in: (1) granting defendant Robert Vanalmsick judgment as a matter of law; (2) excluding certain evidence at trial; and (3) granting several defendants summary judgment on Schulz's failure to train claim. Finding no error, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Steven Schulz (hereinafter "Appellant") is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who has been hospitalized on several occasions for mental health treatment, with one hospitalization being an involuntary commitment. On July 17, 1986, Appellant began throwing, breaking, and sawing items in his basement bedroom at the home of his parents, Virgil and Doris Schulz. Virgil Schulz unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate with his son to go to the hospital for treatment. Mr. and Mrs. Schulz then conferred with a psychiatrist who had treated Appellant on a prior occasion. The psychiatrist suggested that the police might have to be called for assistance in taking Appellant to the hospital.

Eventually, Doris Schulz called the police. Defendant Robert Vanalmsick, a St. Louis County Police Officer, arrived first at the Schulz residence. He was joined shortly thereafter by defendant William Long, who is also a St. Louis County Police Officer. Mr. and Mrs. Schulz advised each officer when they arrived of Appellant's mental condition, including his prior involuntary confinement, and that he was destroying items in the basement. Mr. and Mrs. Schulz also informed the officers that Appellant did not have access to weapons, and they did not believe he was dangerous but was in need of treatment at a mental hospital.

Officer Vanalmsick went downstairs shortly before Officer Long's arrival and engaged Appellant in conversation. At the foot of the stairs, Appellant had erected a chest-high barricade, consisting of tables, chairs, boxes, and other items. Officer Vanalmsick stood on the landing at the bottom of the stairwell

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as he spoke with Appellant, who was on the other side of the barricade. When Officer Long arrived, he also went downstairs and stood several steps above Officer Vanalmsick.

During his conversation with the officers, the Appellant stated that if he went to the hospital, he wanted to speak with a "negotiator" upon arrival. However, he would not tell the officers whom he would accept as a negotiator. Appellant also expressed a concern that the officers were going to "rush him" and hurt him. (Trial Tr. at 149.) Officer Vanalmsick assured Appellant that the officers had no plans to "rush him," nor did they intend to hurt him. Approximately fifteen minutes after Officer Long arrived, the conversation began to stagnate with the officers being unable to convince Appellant to go to the hospital. Officer Long then went upstairs and contacted the police dispatcher to send a supervisor to the premises, stating "get here as soon as possible but don't expedite" and then returned to the basement. (Trial Tr. at 92.)

Sometime thereafter Appellant retrieved a single-bladed hatchet from his bedroom area. After several requests from Officer Vanalmsick to put down the hatchet, Appellant acquiesced and set it down on a nearby shelf. As the conversation between Officer Vanalmsick and Appellant continued, Appellant again picked up the hatchet. Officer Vanalmsick testified at trial that during this time, while he did not feel that Appellant was threatening him with the hatchet, he remained concerned about its presence. (Trial Tr. at 150-51.)

After continued dialogue, Appellant apparently relented to Officer Vanalmsick's requests to put down the hatchet and go to the hospital. He told the officers that he wanted to write down their names and pack a few things for the trip to the hospital. He placed the hatchet on an adjacent shelf and returned to his bedroom area. Officer Vanalmsick retrieved the hatchet from the shelf and handed it to Officer Long, who tossed it to the top of the stairs.

Appellant saw the officers remove the hatchet and became incensed. He screamed obscenities at the officers and commenced hurling bricks at them. The officers took shelter from the flying bricks. When Appellant ceased throwing bricks, he looked around confusedly. Officer Vanalmsick decided to try to get past the barricade to subdue Appellant. Officer Vanalmsick testified that he believed the officers were authorized to subdue or control Appellant because an assault had been committed on the officers and Appellant posed a danger to the officers' safety. (Trial Tr. at 158.)

However, Officer Vanalmsick became entangled in the barricade. As he attempted to free himself, he momentarily...

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