Man’s suit in Merillville officer fight proceeds to trial

By The Associated Press

MERRILLVILLE — A federal appeals court ruled that a lawsuit filed by an Oregon man alleging he acted in self-defense when he fought with an Indiana police officer can proceed.

The court ruled last week that the level of threat Craig Strand, 49, posed to Merrillville Officer Curtis Minchuk is in dispute so the case can go to trial, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported .

The 2013 confrontation began over a parking ticket. Strand tried to argue with Minchuk that he had permission from Planned Parenthood to park his vehicle in the clinic’s lot, but the officer didn’t want to discuss the situation, the lawsuit said.

A fistfight ensued, which included Strand punching Minchuk more than 10 times and Minchuk shooting Strand in the abdomen, according to court records.

Strand was convicted of felony battery in 2014 and sentenced to 20 months in prison. Strand’s attorney in 2015 filed a $3 million lawsuit against Minchuk and the city of Merrillville, alleging that Strand surrendered before Minchuk shot him.

Minchuk sought to have summary judgment in the case, arguing that he should have qualified immunity because it was undisputed that he thought Strand was a threat.

U.S. District Judge James Moody ruled that Strand’s threat level was in dispute. The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the decision after Minchuk appealed.

“A material fact remains unresolved and contested between the parties: whether sufficient time passed upon Strand’s surrender to result in Strand being ‘subdued prior to Officer Minchuk’s use of deadly force,’” Thursday’s ruling said.

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