(CN) - After a man shot his ex because she reported to police that he had contacted her in violation of a restraining order, Iowa officials may be liable, the 8th Circuit ruled.
Tamela Montgomery had gotten a protective order against Angenaldo Bailey in June 2009 after he was convicted of second-degree domestic-abuse assault.
The protective order said Bailey faced immediate arrest if he contacted Montgomery or was "in the immediate vicinity of [her] residence."
Montgomery contacted the Ames, Iowa, police some three months later to report that Bailey had violated the order by calling her and visiting her home.
Though Montgomery said Bailey would likely retaliate violently against her if he was not arrested, Officer John Mueller merely instructed the man to cease further contact with Montgomery after finding him to "get his side of the story."
That evening, Bailey broke into Montgomery's home, shot her three times through the bedroom door, and then killed himself.
Montgomery sued Ames, Mueller and various other city and state officials and entites for putting her in grave physical danger by informing Bailey of her complaint, and for taking more than two hours to respond and get her medical treatment.
Her attorney, Alfred Parrish, told the AP in 2011 that the wounds Montgomery sustained left her permanently paralyzed.
A federal judge in Des Moines granted the defendants summary judgment, but the 8th Circuit revived Montgomery's claims against the state officials on Thursday.
It had been a worker at the Curt Forbes Residential Center, a state-run halfway house where Bailey lived, who told the officer where to find Bailey, according to the ruling.
"The District Court did not mention the claims against the state defendants, and it is not even clear that the court had those claims in mind when it granted summary judgment for 'all defendants' and dismissed all federal claims with prejudice," Judge Steven Colloton wrote for a three-judge panel. "We express no view on the merit of Montgomery's claims against the state defendants, but the denial of notice and an opportunity to be heard requires a remand."
Mueller is not liable, however, because he has immunity, the 12-page opinion states.
"It was reasonable for Mueller, after hearing Montgomery's allegations, to investigate whether Bailey had violated the protective order," Colloton wrote. "After Mueller interviewed Bailey, it is undisputed that he was faced with conflicting accounts regarding whether Bailey had violated the protective order. Under those circumstances, a reasonable jury could not conclude that Mueller acted recklessly or in a conscience-shocking manner by declining to arrest Bailey before the investigation proceeded the next day."
The court also found that Ames police officers had responded properly to the shooting by establishing a perimeter around the house, and attempting to determine if Bailey was still in the house, before entering to assist Montgomery.
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