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Estate of Sinthasomphone v. City of Milwaukee
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
838 F. Supp. 1320 (1993)
Jeffrey Dahmer paid 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone to pose for nude photos in Dahmer’s apartment. After drugging Sinthasomphone, Dahmer left to buy beer. Sinthasomphone managed to escape, and Sandra Smith and Nicole Childress saw him running naked in an alley, injured. While Childress called the police, Dahmer approached Smith and said he was Sinthasomphone’s friend. Smith suspected Dahmer had hurt Sinthasomphone. An ambulance arrived, and rescue personnel thought Sinthasomphone needed treatment. As Dahmer began to lead Sinthasomphone away, police officers Joseph Gabrish and John Balcerzak arrived, responding to reports that a man was badly beaten and wearing no clothes. The police officers later claimed Sinthasomphone was not trying to break free from Dahmer, and the officers sent the ambulance away. Dahmer was calm and helpful in answering the officers’ questions. Balcerzak repeated questions to determine Dahmer’s truthfulness, and Dahmer’s answers remained consistent. Smith told the police that Dahmer had called Sinthasomphone by different names and that Sinthasomphone was trying to escape, but she left when the officers threatened to arrest her. Officers Richard Porubcan and Pete Mozejewski then arrived. The officers physically escorted Sinthasomphone back to Dahmer’s apartment, where the officers saw no signs of a struggle. The officers concluded that Dahmer and Sinthasomphone had a consensual relationship after seeing Sinthasomphone’s clothing and nude photographs. The officers left Sinthasomphone in the apartment, and Dahmer killed him 30 minutes later. The estate of Sinthasomphone and his family (plaintiffs) sued Gabrish, Balcerzak, Porubcan, and the city of Milwaukee (defendants). The suit alleged the officers violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The officers moved for summary judgment, claiming qualified immunity.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Evans, C.J.)
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