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Nichols v. Bourbon County Sheriff's Dep't

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division

June 12, 2014

AUSTIN NICHOLS, Plaintiff,
v.
BOURBON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT., et al., Defendants

Page 635

For Austin Nichols, Plaintiff: Edward E. Dove, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lexington, KY.

For Clinton Graves, Individually, Mark Matthews, Individually, Bourbon County Sheriff, Defendants: D. Barry Stilz, Robert Coleman Stilz, III, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Kinkead & Stilz, PLLC, Lexington, KY.

For Bourbon County Sheriff's Department, Defendant: Robert Coleman Stilz, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, D. Barry Stilz, Kinkead & Stilz, PLLC, Lexington, KY.

For Clinton Graves, as School Safety Officer, Mark Matthews, Bourbon County Sheriff, Official Defendants: D. Barry Stilz, Robert Coleman Stilz, III, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Kinkead & Stilz, PLLC, Lexington, KY.

Page 636

OPINION AND ORDER

KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

Page 637

For the reasons stated below, the motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

On March 8, 2012, Plaintiff Austin Nichols (" Nichols" ) was an eighteen-year-old sophomore at Bourbon County High School when he was arrested for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault by Deputy Sheriff and School Safety Officer Clinton Graves (" Graves" ). Nichols filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging tat Graves used excessive force in effectuating his arrest and that Graves was not adequately trained or supervised. Nichols also made claims for state-law assault and battery. Second Amended Complaint, DE 1-1, CM/ECF pp. 4-10.

Most of the facts leading up to the critical seconds of the confrontation between Graves and Nichols are not disputed. Deputy Graves received a phone call from Teresa Cloyd, the mother of Brittney Cloyd, Nichols' girlfriend, saying the two were fighting in a stairwell at the school and Brittney Cloyd was crying. Graves Dep. p. 42. Nichols admits that he and Cloyd were in the stairwell discussing their recent breakup and that Cloyd was visibly upset and left the building as Graves approached them. DE 25 at 1-2, 5. Nichols admits that Graves ordered him to the school office and Graves then followed Cloyd outside the building.[1] Id. About twenty-five seconds after entering the office, Nichols left and went to the front door where Graves and Cloyd were entering. Id. at 30-31. Nichols approached Cloyd, but Graves placed himself between them. Nichols testified that Graves put his hand on Nichols' chest and pushed him toward the office. Id. at 30. Nichols said that Graves pulled him away from the office door; that Nichols did not push off the wall and did not " offer any resistance to Deputy Graves at that point," but that Graves put him in a headlock. Id. at 34. Nichols admitted that Graves never hit him with his hands, never punched him, never kicked him, and did not use any weapons on him. Id. at 39.

The record includes two videotapes from two surveillance cameras in the lobby near the office. DE 20-4. The video from the camera located to the left of the office and closest to the stairwell and outside door is labeled 20120308-110700.avi. The video from the camera located to the right of the office and away from the outside door is labeled 3-8-2012 11-07-00 AM.avi. Id. After reviewing both videos several times, Nichols admits that " the video accurately depict[s] the force that Deputy Graves used on you on March 8, 2012." Nichols Dep. at 39. He acknowledged that there is " not something that happened either in the stairwell before or once you're off the screen here that you're alleging is at issue in your complaint in terms of excessive force or assault." Id. at 26.

The critical incident between Nichols and Graves is found at approximately 11:09:40 on the videotape. Nichols description is that Graves " pulls me away from the office door." He testified regarding this incident as follows:

Q. Did you ever push off the wall?
A. No.
Q. Did you ever offer any resistance to Deputy Graves at that point when you were up against the wall?
A. No.
Q. It is your testimony, then, that he simply pulled you back and put you on

Page 638

the ground then without anything happening ...

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