Cops Cleared on Spouse Abuse Fears Proven True
CHICAGO (CN) - A woman shot three times by her estranged husband cannot sue the police for failing to enforce a protection order or confiscate his guns, the 7th Circuit ruled.
In February 2010, Stephanie Bond's estranged husband Gabriel Omo-Osagie shot her three times, then killed himself.
After surviving the attack, Bond filed suit, claiming that state and local police officers failed to enforce a protection order and failed to confiscate her husband's guns after right to own firearms was revoked.
Bond claims she told local law enforcement that Omo-Osagie was illegally amassing an arsenal, but that the Champaign County sheriff's office never sought a court order. Bond had not sought such an order either.
Omo-Osagie had also admitted to police that he violated the protection order in late 2011, but he was not arrested.
A federal judge in Urbana, Ill., refused to grant the police immunity, but the 7th Circuit vacated the order last week after finding that Bond failed to state a plausible claim.
Bond's due process claim is "doomed" by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Castle Rock v. Gonzales, according to the ruling.
In that 2005 opinion, the justices found officers had qualified immunity shielding them from liability for failing to enforce a restraining order, leading the estranged husband to murder the couple's three children.
Bond also failed to show that the police discriminated against her as a woman.
"Where's the sex discrimination?" Judge Frank Easterbrook asked, writing for the three-judge panel. "Bond does not allege that police confiscate guns from women who should not possess them, while leaving guns in the hands of men who should not possess them. The complaint does not allege that defendants require a warrant to confiscate men's firearms while not waiting for a warrant to confiscate women's firearms. It does not allege that police vigorously enforce protective orders issued for the benefit of men while not enforcing orders issued for the benefit of women. It does not allege that the police arrest women who threaten or at tack male domestic partners, while failing to arrest men who threaten or attack female domestic partners. Bond does contend that the police described her as 'only crying wolf,' but both men and women cry wolf. This is just another way of expressing the proposition that Bond's estimate of the risk differed from the officers' estimate; it does not tend to show sex discrimination."
Sex discrimination is not the only explanation why other crimes, such as murder, rape or child abuse, often take priority over domestic-relations complaints, the eight-page opinion states.
"There is certainly a rational basis for giving murder and rape investigations higher priority than domestic-relations matters, and the equal protection clause does not authorize the judiciary to take over priority-setting for law enforcement," Easterbrook wrote. "How domestic-relations matters compare with the many other subjects clamoring for law-enforcement attention is for the people to decide through elections and appointments."
Bond's attorney, Patrick Hughes with Mayer Brown's Washington, D.C., office, declined to comment.