Ivan Swearingen, Administrator of the Estate of Ryan James Swearingen; Ronda Swearingen, Administrator of the Estate of Ryan James Swearingen, Plaintiffs - Appellants,
Karl Judd, Individually, and in his Official Capacity as a Police Officer for the City of Fort Madison, Iowa, Defendant-Appellee.
Submitted: January 14, 2019
from United States District Court for the Southern District
of Iowa - Davenport
SMITH, Chief Judge, COLLOTON and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
COLLOTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
case arises from a police shooting in which a suspect was
killed. The administrators of the decedent's estate sued
the police officer who fired the fatal shots, alleging that
he violated the decedent's constitutional rights by using
unreasonable force. The district court concluded that
the officer's use of force was objectively reasonable and
granted summary judgment for the officer. We conclude that
the officer is entitled to qualified immunity, and therefore
affirm the judgment.
the summer of 2014, Ryan Swearingen, aged 27, and his three
children attended a family cookout at the home of his
parents, Ivan and Ronda Swearingen, in Fort Madison, Iowa.
Ryan and his children planned to spend the night at his
parents' home on August 2.
1:16 a.m. on August 3, Fort Madison police captain James
Carle spoke with his girlfriend by cell phone while he worked
the night shift. Carle's girlfriend reported seeing a man
walking outside the house that she shared with Carle. She
described him walking into their backyard and then into a
back alleyway, where he started slashing the tires of several
parked vehicles with a knife.
drove his patrol car to the alleyway and saw a male bent over
the rear driver's side tire of Carle's personal
vehicle. Upon seeing Carle, the man ran down the alleyway in
the opposite direction. Carle pursued the man by car and then
on foot. During the pursuit, Carle used his radio to request
assistance from other officers.
1:46 a.m., Carle saw the suspect enter the Swearingen
residence and lock the back door. Carle notified police
dispatch that he was at the Swearingen residence, and he
started pounding on the back door demanding that the suspect
minutes, several officers arrived at the home. Officers
Smajlovic and Riggs moved to the front of the house to
prevent anyone from escaping. Carle maintained his position
at the back entrance, where he was joined by Officer Karl
Judd and Officer Hartman.
by the barking of the family dog, Ivan went to the back
laundry room and saw uniformed police officers banging on the
door and pointing their firearms at him. Ronda, also
awakened, went to the kitchen. Both Ivan and Ronda saw Ryan
holding at least one knife as he moved around the first floor
of the house. Through the window in the back door, officers
also could see Ryan holding at least one knife. They yelled
at Ryan to put the knife down, but he did not.
and Riggs eventually entered the unlocked front door and made
their way through the front living room and into the dining
room, which opened into the kitchen. Once in the dining room,
Smajlovic could see through the kitchen and laundry room to
the back entrance, where Carle and the other officers were
pounding on the door. Smajlovic saw Ryan holding a
green-handled knife and standing to the left of the back
door. He unholstered his pistol, pointed it at Ryan, and
yelled, "Drop the knife." Ryan did not acknowledge
Smajlovic's order. As Smajlovic and Riggs entered the
kitchen, Ivan blocked their path. Seeing that Ivan was
unarmed, Smajlovic holstered his pistol and used an
empty-hand maneuver to engage with him.
blocked Smajlovic's advance, Ryan walked through the
kitchen and into a side bedroom. There, he entered an
adjoining walkthrough closet, which connected back to the
laundry room near the back door. Meanwhile, the officers at
the back entrance ...