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Trammell v. Fruge

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 17, 2017

GEORGE TRAMMELL, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
KEVIN FRUGE, in his individual and official capacity; MIKE KROGMANN, in his individual and official capacity; BRIAN NEVEU, in his individual and official capacity; E. F. DELAROSA, in his/her individual and official capacity; HUNTER WEBB, in his individual and official capacity; M. GARZA, in his/her individual and official capacity; SHELBY INGLES, in her individual and official capacity; CITY OF ROUND ROCK, TEXAS; JOHN DOES 1-5, Defendants-Appellees.

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas

          Before KING, PRADO, and SOUTHWICK, Circuit Judges.

          EDWARD C. PRADO, Circuit Judge

         Plaintiff-Appellant George Trammel sued Defendants-Appellees Kevin Fruge, Mike Krogmann, Brian Neveu, E.F. Delarosa, Hunter Webb, Marciano Garza, Shelby Ingles, and the City of Round Rock, Texas ("Round Rock") under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 alleging that the Defendants violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights during his arrest on January 21, 2013. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendants. We AFFIRM in part and REVERSE and REMAND in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts

         At approximately 12:00 a.m. on January 21, 2013, the Round Rock Police Department received a 911 call about an individual who had crashed his motorcycle after leaving the El New Goal Post Club ("the Goal Post") and was believed to be intoxicated. Police officers were dispatched to the scene.

         Officer Kevin Fruge was the first to arrive and was directed to a parking lot across the street from the Goal Post where the suspect, George Trammel, was located. Fruge testified that when he pulled into the parking lot he observed a man in a dark jacket standing near a parked motorcycle.[1] Officer Fruge contends that on arrival he "immediately detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from [Trammel's] breath."[2]

         On exiting his vehicle, Officer Fruge instructed Trammel to "step away from the motorcycle." Because he was on the phone and is hearing impaired, Trammel did not respond to Officer Fruge's first command. Then Officer Fruge again requested that Trammel step away from the motorcycle. This time Trammel responded, "What?" Officer Fruge then raised his voice and commanded that Trammel "step away from the motorcycle" a third time. Trammel replied "okay" and complied with Officer Fruge's request.

          Officer Fruge and Trammel then had the following exchange:

OFFICER FRUGE: "What's goin' on? What's goin' on?"
TRAMMEL: "Nothing. I parked my bike."
OFFICER FRUGE: "You parked it?"
TRAMMEL: "Yeah."
OFFICER FRUGE: "Did you wreck it?"
TRAMMEL: "No. I didn't wreck my bike."
OFFICER FRUGE: "Let me ask you a question, sir. How much have you had to drink tonight?"
TRAMMEL: "A whole lot of nothin'."
OFFICER FRUGE: "A whole lot of nothing? How much is that?"
TRAMMEL: "A whole lot of nothin'."
OFFICER FRUGE: "How much is that, sir?"
TRAMMEL: "I'm not going to answer."
OFFICER FRUGE: "Huh?"
TRAMMEL: "I'm not going to answer."

As the dash cam video confirms, Trammel remained calm throughout this interaction.

         Officer Fruge then asked Trammel, "Well, can you walk towards me?" Trammel declined and said, "No." Officer Fruge then commanded Trammel to place his hands behind his back. Trammel again told Officer Fruge, "I'm not answering your questions, " and did not comply with Officer Fruge's request. At this point, Trammel took off the jacket he was wearing because he felt hot and said, "I'm not going to jail."

         At this point, Officer Fruge believed he had probable cause to arrest Trammel for public intoxication, and he grabbed Trammel's right arm as he told him to put his hands behind his back. Trammel immediately pulled back and told Officer Fruge that it hurt and not to grab him there.[3] Officer Ingles then grabbed Trammel's left arm, but Trammel again pulled away.[4] Officer Fruge executed a knee strike on Trammel's right thigh, and Trammel lost his balance. Officer Garza put Trammel in a headlock as he, Officer Neveu, and Officer Fruge pulled Trammel to the ground.[5] Trammel states that he initially had his "arms in front of [his] body . . . [because he] was trying to prevent [his] fall, " but that the officers were grabbing at his arms and landed on top of his body so that he ...


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