Domestic violence, shooting victim blocked from suing cops for failure to enforce restraining order
In February 2010, Stephanie Bond was shot three times by her estranged husband, Gabriel Omo-Osagie, who then took his own life. Omo-Osagie had been arrested and charged with domestic battery the previous November, after which Bond filed a restraining order against him.
After Omo-Osagie attempted to murder her, she sued state and local police officials claiming that they failed to enforce the order of protection because she was merely a woman involved in a “‘messy divorce.'” Last week, Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided against her, writing that her “complaint inadequately allege[d] sex discrimination.”
Bond contended that law enforcement officials ignored her warnings about Omo-Osagie’s behavior when, after the domestic battery charge, they allowed him to visit with the couple’s children from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. on weekdays. She further alleged that they ignored both her and her family’s calls to police in which they indicated that Omo-Osagie, who had had his right to possess firearms revoked, was “amassing an arsenal.”
Before his suicide, Omo-Asagie admitted to police that he violated the already generous joint-custody agreement.
None of that was not enough to convince Chief Judge Easterbrook that there was merit to Bond’s claim that police ignored her because they believed she was “involved in a ‘messy divorce.'” He granted police immunity against her suit because, in his words, she failed to prove that their actions had “a disparate effect on women.”
“Where’s the sex discrimination?” the Chief Judge asked. He then dismissed her discrimination claim because “both men and women cry wolf.” Bond failed to prove that police officials “wanted men (but not women) left at large to injure their domestic partners,” and that while they were “wrong about the risk Omo-Osagie posted to Bond,” the Constitution “does not guarantee mistake-free law enforcement.”
Easterbrook finished by admonishing Bond for thinking that domestic violence is a serious offense in the eyes of the law and pointing her in a better direction for legal recourse:
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 overpriority setting for law enforcement. 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 is expected to appeal.
[“Angry Male Judge In A Courtroom Striking The Gavel And Pronounces Sentence” on Shutterstock]