United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. CAUTHRON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant City of Oklahoma City's
(“OKC”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 38)
and Defendant Bill Citty's (“Citty”) Motion
for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 40). Plaintiff has responded
and both Motions are now at issue.
case concerns an altercation between police officers
(Defendants Jeffrey Coffey, Christopher Schubert, Austin
Childs, and Timothy Owens) and Plaintiff Anthony Hill that
took place at about 1:55 a.m. on March 2, 2012, when Coffey
initiated a traffic stop in Oklahoma City near an apartment
complex. Plaintiff was driving the vehicle. Coffey stated 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 the officers,
Plaintiff was belligerent and Coffey deployed a Taser to
immobilize Plaintiff and place him in handcuffs. Childs
called Shubert, a Drug Recognition Expert Officer, to the
scene. 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 the
officers 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
officers punched, kicked, and Tased him again, with the
entire incident lasting 50 minutes to an hour.
Lt. Bullard was also present during the incident but it is
unclear exactly when he arrived and what his role was during
the altercation. Bullard states he attempted to grab
Plaintiff before he was in handcuffs, but missed. While
Plaintiff testified that after Coffey and Childs kicked and
punched him, “the lieutenant” shot him with a
Taser (Hill Deposition, Dkt. No. 38-70, p.7), he bases his
arguments on the “grab and miss” line of events
and never mentions Taser usage by Bullard in his responses to
the dual motions for summary judgment. Bullard's version
of events are consistent with the fact that Bullard was not
certified to use a Taser and had not been issued one. (Citty
Affidavit, Dkt. No. 38-1.) For these reasons, the Court will
accept the “grab and miss” version of events as
undisputed fact. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1).
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 Bullard states
he interviewed Plaintiff, and Plaintiff denies this fact.
However, Plaintiff agrees Bullard did ask him
questions. Hospital staff released Plaintiff into
police custody. The officers performed booking procedures and
ultimately released Plaintiff.
Citty is the Oklahoma City Police Department Police Chief.
Police procedures require a supervisor to investigate an
officer's use of force beyond routine handcuffing. Once
the investigation is complete, a Division Commander reviews
it, and then a three-person Screening Committee determines if
the use of force was justified and appropriate. Here, Bullard
states he conducted a use of force investigation. This fact
was problematic because in some arguments, Plaintiff disputes
the fact, but several other places he claims a constitutional
violation occurred because Bullard performed the
on the evidence presented, the Court will accept Bullard did
conduct the required use of force investigation as an
undisputed fact. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). The
Police Operations Manual requires the investigating superior
to perform the following tasks in the investigation: (1)
interview all employees, suspects, and witnesses or take
their statements, (2) take photographs of any injured person,
and (3) take photographs of damaged property. (Police
Operations Manual, Dkt. No. 38-54, p. 2.) The record includes
a thirty-nine (39) page report that includes all the required
items, plus other documentation. (Use of Force Report, Dkt.
No. 38-43.) The report states Bullard interviewed Plaintiff
while at the hospital and lists a few answers Plaintiff
provided. (Use of Force Report, Dkt. No. 38-43, p. 5.)
Plaintiff stated he answered some of Bullard's questions
in the hospital. (Hill Deposition, Dkt. No. 38-79, pp 15-17.)
The answers to the questions are disputed, but immaterial.
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.)
alleged violations of his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth
Amendment rights and brought claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 1985. The claims against OKC
include malicious prosecution, conspiracy, failure to
instruct, supervise, control, and discipline, and
ratification. Plaintiff names Citty in his individual
capacity and the claims include conspiracy, failure to
instruct, supervise, control, and discipline, and
ratification. Plaintiff also requested punitive damages
against both Defendants.
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
first cause of action is malicious prosecution brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff brought the
claim against Defendants Coffey, Childs, Schubert, and Owens
and the Court granted judgment in Defendants' favor.