By Liz Shepherd
SYRACUSE — Warsaw Police Chief Scott Whitaker, WPD Capt. Paul Heaton, and the City of Warsaw have responded to a lawsuit against them regarding alleged violations of a family’s constitutional rights.
The initial suit says Whitaker and Heaton unlawfully entered a Syracuse family’s home during New Year’s 2022 after Whitaker became concerned his underage daughter was attending a party there. Pamela, David and Solomon Gregory are the plaintiffs in the case.
The defendants are being represented by Robert T. Keen Jr., Barrett McNagny LLP, Fort Wayne.
In an answer filed on Jan. 4 in the United States District Court Northern District of Indiana – South Bend Division, Whitaker and Heaton admitted to traveling to the Gregorys’ home to look for Whitaker’s daughter. The answer also states Heaton attempted to take physical control of Solomon at one point. However, they deny Heaton entered the Gregorys’ home without permission.
Heaton did ask Solomon if Whitaker’s daughter was in the home and that Solomon said he did not believe she was there. The defendants also deny Heaton telling Solomon he did not need a warrant to search the home.
Syracuse Police officers and Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to the property for assistance by Heaton, according to the answer.
Whitaker, Heaton, and the City of Warsaw further deny all the legal claims listed in the suit by the Gregorys, which are as follows:
- Heaton violated the Fourth Amendment by entering the Gregorys’ property and searching it, and by seizing Solomon.
- Whitaker’s actions violated the Fourth Amendment if Whitaker directed Heaton to enter the property or failed to intervene to stop the entry.
- Heaton seizing Solomon represents a tort for which the city of Warsaw is liable or, in the alternative, Heaton is liable, if Heaton was not acting within the scope of his employment.
The affirmative defenses listed in the answer state the following:
- The Gregorys’ complaint for damages fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted against the defendants.
- Whitaker and Heaton are entitled to qualified immunity from all of the federal claims asserted against them in the Gregorys’ complaint.
- The brief detention of Solomon constituted an “arrest” and that there was probable cause to do so.
- The Gregorys consented to the entry and search of their home.
- Whitaker, Heaton and the City of Warsaw are personally immune from the Gregorys’ state law tort claims.
- The Gregorys have failed to mitigate their damages.
Whitaker, Heaton, and the City of Warsaw are requesting judgment be entered in their favor.