United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. CAUTHRON United States District Judge.
before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendants Jeffrey Coffey, Christopher Schubert, Austin
Childs, and Timothy Owens (the “moving
Defendants”) (Dkt. No. 47). Plaintiff has responded and
the Motion is now at issue.
about 1:55 a.m. on March 2, 2012, Officer Coffey initiated a
traffic stop in Oklahoma City near an apartment complex.
Plaintiff Anthony Hill was driving the vehicle. Coffey states
he observed the vehicle straddling lane lines, so he
conducted a field sobriety test on Plaintiff. Whether
Plaintiff committed a traffic violation and whether he passed
the sobriety test is disputed. After the test was complete,
Coffey asked or told Plaintiff to sit in the back seat of the
patrol car. Officer Childs, who observed Coffey initiate the
traffic stop, arrived shortly thereafter. When Plaintiff did
not sit in the patrol car, the two officers attempted to
place Plaintiff in handcuffs.
accounts of what followed differ. According to Defendants,
Plaintiff was belligerent and Coffey deployed a Taser to
immobilize Plaintiff and place him in handcuffs. Childs
called Sergeant Shubert, a Drug Recognition Expert Officer,
to the scene. Officer Owens also responded. Plaintiff stood
up and when the four officers tried to place Plaintiff in the
patrol car, he broke free and rushed at the officers. This is
when Defendants Tased Plaintiff a second time, put him in
maximal restraints, and loaded him into the patrol car.
to Plaintiff, Coffey and Childs punched him about ten times
each, Tased him, and kicked him many times in the body and
head before placing him in handcuffs and then in the patrol
car. Plaintiff was dragged out of the patrol car and the four
Defendants punched, kicked, and Tased him again, with the
entire incident lasting 50 minutes to an hour.
apartment manager, Patti Sangster, partially observed the
altercation for thirty minutes to an hour. She testified that
the sound of screams woke her up and she observed a man in
handcuffs and police officers laughing. She saw a man
spitting up blood, answering the officers' questions
respectfully, and being Tased by the officers while in
handcuffs. A couple of days after the incident, the same man
who identified himself as Anthony Hill came to ask if she had
observed the incident.
transported Plaintiff to Deaconess Hospital to remove the
Taser probes and to determine whether Plaintiff was under the
influence of drugs. For disputed reasons, no one performed
medical tests on Plaintiff to detect intoxicating substances.
Plaintiff's injuries were photographed and he was
released. Nurse Monique Ritz testified that while she did not
specifically remember this incident, normally the treating
physician determines why a patient requires treatment and
sometimes the doctor would talk to police officers to get all
the facts rather than only the patient.
incident resulted in Plaintiff's prosecution in the City
of Oklahoma City Municipal Criminal Court for the following
citations: straddling lane lines, interference with official
process by resisting, driving under the influence, possession
of marijuana, and assault and battery on a city official. The
case was eventually dismissed on August 13, 2013, with the
City of Oklahoma City stating “upon further review and
investigation [the City] moves for dismissal of the above
captioned action.” (Mot. to Dismiss Municipal Case,
Dkt. No. 47-12.) The Municipal Judge granted the Motion for
good cause shown. (Order of Dismissal, Dkt. No. 47-12.)
standard for summary judgment is well established. Summary
judgment may only be granted if the evidence of record shows
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial
burden of demonstrating the absence of material fact
requiring judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A fact is material
if it is essential to the proper disposition of the claim.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). If the movant carries this initial burden, the
nonmovant must then set forth specific facts outside the
pleadings and admissible into evidence which would convince a
rational trier of fact to find for the nonmovant.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). All facts and reasonable inferences
therefrom are construed in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The facts
presented need not be produced in a form admissible at trial,
“but the content or substance of the evidence must be
admissible.” Thomas v. Int'l Bus.
Machines, 48 F.3d 478, 485 (10th Cir. 1995) (citation
moving Defendants argue for judgment as a matter of law on
Plaintiff's malicious prosecution, conspiracy, and
unlawful restraint claims. Defendants also raise qualified
immunity as to the malicious prosecution and conspiracy
claims. Where the defense is raised, the Court will address
qualified immunity as the first ground for summary judgment.
See Bowden v. Hignite, No. CIV-06-0811-F, 2007 WL
1994070, at *5 (W.D. Okla. July 5, 2007) (citing Hunter
v. Bryant, 502 U.S. 224, 227 (1991)).
first cause of action is malicious prosecution brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Moving Defendants have
raised the defense of qualified immunity. In order to
overcome qualified immunity, “a plaintiff must
establish that the defendant's conduct violated a federal
constitutional or statutory right and that the right was
clearly established at the time of the conduct.”
Hulen v. Yates, 322 F.3d 1229, 1237 (10th Cir. 2003)
(citations omitted). If a plaintiff fails to establish either
prong, the defendant will ...