United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
CLARENCE JONES, JR.
CITY OF SHREVEPORT, ET AL.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE HORNSBY
MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendants, the City of Shreveport (“the City”),
Officer Daniel Meyers (“Officer Meyers”), Officer
Jesse Camp (“Officer Camp”), and Chief Alan Crump
(“Chief Crump”) (collectively
“Defendants”). See Record Document 16.
Plaintiff, Clarence Jones Jr. (“Jones”) opposes
the Motion. See Record Document 18. Defendants seek
dismissal of all of Jones' claims. For the reasons stated
in the instant Memorandum Ruling, Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment is hereby GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
February 23, 2016, Shreveport Police Officers were dispatched
to a 911 call of “shots fired” in the area of
Holly Street and East Olive Street. See Record
Document 18-2 at p. 1, ¶ 1. Officer Meyers was one of
the officers dispatched to the area. See id. at
¶ 2. Once Officer Meyers arrived in the area, he began
circulating the neighborhood in his patrol vehicle looking
for suspicious activity. See id. At the same time,
Jones was driving in the same area.
Meyers alleges that he began following Jones on Alexander
Avenue. See Record Document 18-4 at p. 5, Officer
Meyers' Deposition, Exhibit B. However, the evidence
shows Officer Meyers did not activate his dash cam until he
reached East Olive Street. See Record Document 16-3,
Officer Meyers' Dash Cam at 7:43-8:00, Exhibit A-1.
Officer Meyers' dash cam footage begins to play as Jones
is turning right on to Centenary Boulevard from East Olive
Street. See id. Once on Centenary Boulevard, Officer
Meyers increased his speed in an effort to follow Jones more
closely. See id. at 8:05-8:23. Soon thereafter,
Officer Meyers activated his lights and siren signaling Jones
to pull over as they both approached the corner of Centenary
Boulevard and East Kings Highway. See id. at
8:25-8:35. Seconds later, Jones stopped his vehicle at the
intersection of Centenary Boulevard and East Kings Highway.
See id. at 8:38. Once stopped, Officer Meyers
requested Jones to “roll your windows down and let me
see your hands.” Id. at 8:44-8:47. Jones
initially complied with this request. See id. at
8:56-9:06. However, as Officer Meyers was approaching the
vehicle, Jones drove away. See id. at 8:56-9:06;
Record Document 18-4 at p. 8, Officer Meyers' Narrative
Supplement, Exhibit C
response to Jones' action, Officer Meyers ran back to his
patrol vehicle and pursued Jones through the Highland
neighborhood with his vehicle's lights and sirens
activated. See id. at 9:12-12:00. During the
pursuit, several other officers responded and attempted to
set up a roadblock for Jones' vehicle. See id.
at 11:46-11:49. The roadblock consisted of two marked
vehicles with their lights activated in an effort to halt
Jones. See id. However, Jones drove off the road
into the grass in an effort to evade those officers as well
as Officer Meyers. See id. This pursuit lasted for
several minutes with Jones disregarding traffic signs, speed
limits, and officer requests. See id. at 9:12-12:00.
The pursuit finally ended when Jones turned into a driveway
on East Olive Street and came to a stop. See id. at
any prompting from the officers, Jones got out of the vehicle
with his hands up, and immediately laid face down on the
ground, with his hands above his head and away from his body.
See id. at 12:05-12:08; Record Document 16-3 at p.
56, Officer Meyers' Deposition, Exhibit E. While Officer
Meyers and another unidentified officer cleared the
driver's side of the vehicle for any other passengers and
weapons, Jones laid still on the ground, not moving. See
id. at 12:12-12:30. Officer Camp was simultaneously
clearing the passenger side. See Record Document
16-3 at p. 64, Officer Camp's Deposition, Exhibit F. Once
the vehicle was cleared, Officer Meyers delivered a knee
strike to what appears to be Jones' facial area. See
id. at 12:30-12:32. He then delivered three kidney
strikes for pain compliance to get Jones' hands behind
his back. See id. at 12:34-12:37; Record Document
18-4 at p. 6, Officer Meyers' Deposition, Exhibit B.
Officer Meyers states that this was necessary because Jones
was not complying with his request to put his hands behind
his back. See id., Officer Meyers'
the third kidney strike, Officer Camp came around the back
end of the vehicle to assist Officer Meyers. See
Record Document 16-3, Officer Meyers' Dash Cam at
12:36-12:37. With Officer Camp assisting Officer Meyers in
detaining Jones, Officer Meyers delivered three closed fist
strikes to the right side of Jones' face due to
Jones' alleged noncompliance. See Record
Document 18-4 at p. 6, Officer Meyers' Deposition,
Exhibit B; Record Document 18-4 at p. 8, Officer Meyers'
Narrative Supplement, Exhibit C. However, the video evidence
does not clearly show this taking place nor does it show
Jones actively resisting being placed in handcuffs.
See Officer Meyers' Dash Cam at 12:32-15:12.
Furthermore, Officer Camp, in his deposition, testified that
he did not see Officer Meyers strike Jones three to four
times in the facial area. See Record Document 16-3
at p. 64, Officer Camp's Deposition, Exhibit F. Once
Jones was handcuffed, he was patted down for weapons and
Mirandized. See Officer Meyers' Narrative
Supplement, Exhibit A-2. Jones was arrested for flight from
an officer in violation of La. Rev. Stat. § 14:108.1 and
reckless operation of a vehicle in violation of La. Rev.
Stat. § 14:99. See id.
Jones' arrest, officers called the Shreveport Fire
Department (“SFD”) to the scene to evaluate Jones
due to Jones “complaining of swelling of the eye”
before transporting him to the Shreveport City Jail. Record
Document 16-3 at p. 22, Shreveport Fire Department Incident
Report, Exhibit B. Jones was assessed along with his vital
signs and all were within normal ranges. See id.
Accordingly, the SFD released Jones to the Shreveport Police
Department (“SPD”). See id.
on February 23, 2016, Jones was transported by an officer of
the SPD to the University Health Emergency Department for
treatment. See Record Document 18-4 at p. 12,
University Health ER Records, Exhibit E. He was diagnosed
with a conjunctival hemorrhage to the right eye, an
unspecified injury of the head, and an abrasion of an
unspecified part of the head. See id. at p. 20.
Jones' arrest, he claims to have suffered extensively
from headaches and memory problems. See Record
Document 18-4 at p. 24, Jones' Deposition, Exhibit F. In
an effort to determine the cause of these headaches and
memory loss, Jones visited Dr. Sun, an assistant professor in
the LSU Neurosurgery Department. See Record Document
16-3 at p. 67, Dr. Sun's Deposition, Exhibit G. Dr. Sun
had Jones submit to a MRI. See id. at p. 68. Jones
was diagnosed by Dr. Sun as having a pineal cyst in his
brain, but cautioned that it was a limited diagnosis because
he has not taken a piece of the tissue and examined under the
microscope to confirm or dispel this limited diagnosis.
See id. Furthermore, Dr. Sun testified that he did
not know what caused Jones' alleged brain cyst and that
he could not under a medical opinion say that the brain cyst
was caused by head trauma resulting from Officer Meyers'
actions. See id. at p. 70.
February 21, 2017, Jones filed the present lawsuit pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants alleging federal
and state law claims of false arrest, excessive force,
failure to intervene, and failure to properly train or
supervise. See Record Document 1. Further, Jones
alleges state law claims of excessive force, false arrest,
false imprisonment, failure to train or supervise, assault,
and battery. See id. Defendants now seek summary
judgment in their favor on the grounds that: (1) Officer
Meyers had reasonable suspicion to initiate a stop of Jones,
(2) probable cause existed for his arrest, (3) the amount of
force used was not clearly excessive to the need, (4) Officer
Meyers and Officer Camp are entitled to qualified immunity,
(5) there is no evidence of an official policy or custom to
establish municipal liability. See Record Document
16-1 at p. 10. Jones opposes Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment arguing Officer Meyers' actions were
unreasonable, excessive, and without reasonable suspicion
and/or probable cause.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is proper pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure when “there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.” Quality Infusion Care, Inc. v.
Health Care Serv. Corp., 628 F.3d 725, 728 (5th Cir.
2010). “A genuine [dispute] of material fact exists
when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return
a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. at
728. During this stage, courts must look to the substantive
law underlying the lawsuit in order to identify “which
facts are material.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510 (1986)
56[(a)] mandates the entry of summary judgment, after
adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party
who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Patrick v. Ridge, 394 F.3d 311, 315
(5th Cir. 2004). If the movant demonstrates the absence of a
genuine dispute of material fact, “the nonmovant must
go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing
that there is a genuine [dispute] for trial.” Gen.
Universal Sys., Inc. v. Lee, 379 F.3d 131, 141 (5th Cir.
2004). A nonmovant cannot meet the burden of proving that a
genuine dispute of material fact exists by providing only
“some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by
conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by
only a scintilla of evidence.” Little v. Liquid Air
Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). Where
critical evidence is so weak or tenuous on an essential fact
that it could not support a judgment in favor of the
nonmovant, then summary judgment should be granted. See
Boudreaux v. Swift Transp. Co., 402 F.3d 536, 540 (5th
reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court is to view
“the facts and inferences to be drawn therefrom in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party.”
Tubos de Acero de Mexico, S.A. v. Am. Int'l Inv.
Corp., Inc., 292 F.3d 471, 478 (5th Cir. 2002); see
also Harris v. Serpas, 745 F.3d 767, 771 (5th Cir.
2014). However, when there is video evidence available in the
record, the court is not bound to adopt the nonmoving
party's version of the facts if it is contradicted by the
record, but rather should “review [ ] the facts in the
light depicted by the videotape.” Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 381, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776 (2007);
see also Carnaby v. City of Houston, 636 F.3d 183,
187 (5th Cir. 2011) (“Although we review evidence in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, we assign
greater weight, even at the summary judgment stage, to the
facts evident from video recordings taken at the
scene.”). Further, the court should not, in the absence
of any proof, presume that the nonmoving party could or would
prove the necessary facts. See Little, 37 F.3d at
1983 provides that any person who, under color of state law,
deprives another of “any rights, privileges or
immunities secured by the Constitution and laws shall be
liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in
equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . .”
Harrington v. Harris, 118 F.3d 359, 365 (5th Cir.
1997) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983, however,
does not create any substantive rights; it simply provides a
remedy for the rights designated therein. See id. at
365. “Thus, an underlying constitutional or statutory
violation is a predicate to liability under §
1983.” Id. (citation omitted). “To state
a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must (1) allege a
violation of rights secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States and (2) demonstrate that the alleged
deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of
state law.” Leffall v. Dallas Independent School
District, 28 F.3d 521, 525 (5th Cir. 1994). The first
inquiry is whether plaintiff has alleged a violation of a
constitutional right at all. See id. at 525;
Piotrowski v. City of Houston, 51 F.3d 512, 515 (5th
alleges that Defendants unlawfully detained and arrested him
and in doing so used excessive force. Claims that law
enforcement officers made an unlawful detention or arrest are
analyzed under the Fourth Amendment. See Brown v.
Texas, 443 U.S. 47, 51, 99 S.Ct. 2637, 2640 (1979).
Furthermore, claims that law enforcement officers used
excessive force are also analyzed under the Fourth Amendment.
See Mace v. City of Palestine, 333 F.3d 621, 624
(5th Cir. 2003) (citing Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S.
386, 395, 109 S.Ct. 1865, 1871 (1989)). Therefore, Jones
meets the first prong as he has alleged a violation of his
4th Amendment rights.
second inquiry requires the alleged deprivation to be
committed by a person acting under the color of state law.
See Leffall, 28 F.3d at 525. As Shreveport Police
Officers, Officers Meyers and Camp were acting under the
color of state law. Therefore, Jones has meet the second
prong to state a claim under Section 1983. Accordingly, Jones
has sufficiently stated a claim pursuant to Section 1983.
However, Officer Meyers and Camp have raised the defense of
qualified immunity. The Court will now discuss the law as it
relates to a qualified immunity defense.
as here, plaintiff seeks money damages from government
officials in their individual capacities under Section
1983, the affirmative defense of qualified immunity is
available to protect defendants “from liability for
civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate
clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of
which a reasonable person would have known.”
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231, 129 S.Ct.
808, 815 (2009) (citing Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457
U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 2738 (1982)). The qualified
immunity doctrine balances two often conflicting interests -
“the need to hold public officials accountable when
they exercise power irresponsibly, and the need to shield
officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when
they perform their duties reasonably.” Id. at
231, 129 S.Ct. 815. As such, “[t]he protection of
qualified immunity applies regardless of whether the
government official's error is “a mistake of law, a
mistake of fact, or a mistake based on mixed questions of law
and fact.” Id. (citations omitted). In effect,
qualified immunity “gives ample room for mistaken
judgments by protecting “all but the plainly
incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.”
Mendenhall v. Riser, 213 F.3d 226, 230 (5th
Cir.2000) (citing Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335,
341, 106 S.Ct.1092, 1096 (1986) (internal quotation marks
immunity is technically characterized as an affirmative
defense. However, once raised by defendants, it devolves upon
plaintiff to negate the defense by showing that the
officials' conduct violated clearly established law.
See Brumfield v. Hollins, 551 F.3d 322, 326 (5th
Cir.2008) (citation omitted). Plaintiff's burden is two-
pronged. See Club Retro LLC v. Hilton, 568 F.3d 181,
194 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoted sources omitted). First,
plaintiff must demonstrate that defendant(s) violated a
constitutional right under current law. See id. at
194. “Second, [plaintiff] must claim that the
defendant's actions were objectively unreasonable in
light of the law that was clearly established at the time of
the actions complained of.” Id. (quoted source
and internal quotation marks omitted). Courts are
“permitted to exercise their sound discretion in
deciding which of the two prongs of the qualified immunity
analysis should be addressed first in light of the
circumstances of the particular case at hand.”
Collier v. Montgomery, 569 F.3d 214, 217 (5th Cir.
2009) (citation omitted).
Official Capacity Claims Against Officers Meyers and
has asserted Section 1983 claims against Officers Meyers and
Camp in their official and individual capacities.
See Record Document 1 at p. 2, ¶ 5. However,
Jones cannot obtain relief against these officers in their
official capacities for two reasons.
because a suit against a public official in his official
capacity is simply a suit against the local governmental
entity itself, the proper official to sue in his official
capacity to impose liability upon a local governmental entity
is the official with final policymaking authority for the
entity under state or local law. See Burge v. Parish of
St. Tammany, 187 F.3d 452, 468-70 (5th Cir. 1999)
(citing, inter alia, St. Louis v.
Praprotnik, 485 U.S. 112, 123, 108 S.Ct. 915, 924 (1988)
(plurality opinion). Under the undisputed facts in the
summary judgment record, Officers Meyers and Camp both hold
the rank of Officer in the SPD. See Record Document
16-3 at p. 3, ¶ 1, Officer Meyers' Affidavit,
Exhibit A; Record Document 16-3 at p. 62, Officer Camp's
Deposition, Exhibit F. Therefore, these officers are
unquestionably not the final policymaking authorities for the
SPD, and as such are not the appropriate officials to sue in
their official capacity to impose liability on the City.
municipal entities cannot be held liable under a theory of
respondeat superior, but rather can only be held
liable for an unconstitutional policy or custom that causes
the deprivation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights
under the framework set forth in Monell v. Dep't of
Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691, 98
S.Ct. 2018, 2036 (1978). Thus, any claims against these
officers, even if they were the correct officers to sue as
the final policymaking ...