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Jackson v. Steele

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

June 19, 2014

TRAVIS STEELE, ET AL., Defendants.


DAVID L. BUNNING, District Judge.


This matter arises out of Plaintiff Glenn Jackson's arrest at his home on the night of July 10, 2010. Plaintiff alleges that he was unlawfully beaten and injured by the Defendant Officers during his arrest. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff brings various constitutional claims against Defendants Sergeant Travis Steele, Officer Tony Cantrell, Officer Chris Yavorcik, Sergeant Casey Brammell, Grayson Chief of Police Ed Ginter, Grayson Mayor George Steele, Unknown Police Officers, and the City of Grayson, Kentucky. Plaintiff also brings state law claims for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, respondeat superior, negligent supervision, and punitive damages. The Court has federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 40). The motion has been fully briefed (Docs. # 40-1, 42, 43), and the matter is now ripe for review. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 40) is hereby GRANTED.


On July 10, 2010, Officer Tony Cantrell was investigating a recent burglary in Grayson, Kentucky. (Doc. # 40-2 at 6:12-17). During the course of the investigation, Cantrell was informed that the stolen property may have been traded to Plaintiff Glenn Jackson for money and drugs. ( Id. at 9:7-22). Cantrell relayed this information to Sergeant Travis Steele, who obtained a warrant to search Mr. Jackson's home, a doublewide trailer. ( Id. at 11:12-21; Doc. 40-3 at 15:8-17:10, 32:24). Cantrell's confidential informants also notified him that "Mr. Jackson had weapons all around the house." (Doc. # 40-2 at 9:5; Doc. # 40-3 at 22:11-20).

Due to the perceived risk of entering a house believed to contain numerous firearms, Sergeant Steele made the decision to use a "dynamic entry" to enter the house and execute the warrant. (Doc. # 40-3 at 14:3-15:7). Sergeant Steele had received training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri on the execution of high risk search warrants against individuals with weapons. ( Id. at 11:17-24). The members of the team-Steele, Cantrell, Officer Roy Ison, [1] Chief Ed Ginter, Officer Chris Yavorcik, Officer Casey Brammel, and Officer Wes Boggs-met prior to the operation to plan their procedure. ( Id. at 23:18-24:3). Each member of the team was assigned specific duties: Cantrell was to perform the "knock and announce" and breach the door using a battering ram ( Id. at 24:13-15); Steele and Ison were to enter the residence first and secure the area to the left of the front door ( Id. at 34:6-34:22); Ginter was to enter the house after Steele (Doc. # 40-3 at 41:1-12); Cantrell and Yavorcik were to follow and secure the area to the right (Doc. # 40-6 at 7:5-14); Brammel was to secure the outside perimeter (Doc. # 40-7 at 6:19-24). The record is unclear as to what role Boggs played in the search.

Around midnight on July 10, the members of the team executed the search warrant and performed their duties as assigned. In the dark of night, Ison and Steele entered the house and proceeded into Plaintiff's bedroom, where they allege he was "setting [ sic ] up in the bed with his hand on a pistol." (Doc. # 40-3 at 35:2-3). In his deposition Plaintiff stated that he had a pistol under his pillow and that it was "possible" that he had the gun in his hand when Steele and Ison approached him. (Doc. # 40-4 at 125:7-126:4). Officer Ison began giving Plaintiff verbal commands to "get his hands off the gun, to get them up, and to get off the bed." (Doc. # 40-3 at 36:7-8). Sergeant Steele testified in his deposition that Plaintiff was not complying with these verbal commands. ( Id. at 36:4-5). Ison then physically moved Plaintiff onto the floor. ( Id. at 36:19-37:19). As Plaintiff feel to the floor, the pistol dropped to the bed. ( Id. at 38:3).

Once Plaintiff was on the floor, Steele testified that Plaintiff was laying face-first on an assault rifle. ( Id. at 38:9-12). At this point, Ison's flashlight went out, and the room was temporarily in complete darkness. ( Id. at 38:17-19). Steele placed his foot on Plaintiff's left calf to feel whether he was rolling over, as both he and Ison gave Plaintiff commands to get his hands out from under his body. ( Id. at 38:21-39:2). Steele then reached for the light cord on the ceiling fan and turned on the light. ( Id. at 39:4-6). Shortly thereafter, another officer entered the room and cuffed Plaintiff. ( Id. at 39:16-17). Plaintiff was then escorted onto the living room couch while the officers searched the premises. ( Id. at 40:13-14; Doc. # 40-2 at 17:18-20). At this time, Plaintiff denied that he was injured and refused medical treatment (Doc. # 40-3 at 41:1-3).

Plaintiff alleges that Steele physically assaulted him while he was still in bed and after he was pulled out of bed. ( See Doc. # 2 at ¶ 11; Doc. 40-4 at 114:10-14). Plaintiff also stated in his deposition that the only two officers that had physical contact with him were Steele and Ison. (Doc. # 40-4 at 130:15-131:7).

Photos from the search and testimony of the other officers involved confirm that Plaintiff had numerous firearms, including assault rifles, staged throughout his home. (Doc. # 40-6 at 11-13; Doc. #40-5). They also confirm that a pistol remained on Plaintiff's bed after he was removed from it. (Doc. # 40-5).

Defendant Ison was wearing a video camera which recorded the initial entry into the premises, and Ison and Steele's initial interaction with Plaintiff. The Court has reviewed this video, and while portions of it are difficult to analyze due to darkness, it largely confirms the testimony of Defendants, including that Plaintiff was lying on or near an assault rifle while he was on the floor. At no point during the video is any use of force against Plaintiff visible.[2]

After his arrest, Plaintiff was transported to the Carter County Detention Center. (Doc. # 40-4 at 138:1-8; Doc. # 40-8 at 10:15-20). At the time he was processed, the booking officers determined that he did not require medical attention. (Doc. # 40-8 at 13:8-25). Plaintiff also denied needing any medical attention and did not inform anyone at the jail that he had allegedly been assaulted. ( Id. at 17-21; Doc. # 40-4 at 161:10-162:13).

Following his release, Plaintiff went to King's Daughter's Emergency complaining of "right facial swelling, decreased hearing, right shoulder, rib, and knee pain, and bruising...." (Doc. # 40-4 at 162:23-163:15). Nine days later, he presented to the VA Medical Center complaining of an injury to his penis. (Doc. # 40-9).

Almost a year after the incident, on July 8, 2011, Plaintiff filed the pro se Complaint discussed in Part I, supra.


A. Summary Judgment Standard

"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that 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). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

The "moving party bears the burden of showing the absence of any genuine issues of material fact." Sigler v. Am. Honda Motor Co., 532 F.3d 469, 483 (6th Cir. 2008). The moving party may meet this burden by demonstrating the absence of evidence concerning an essential element of the nonmovant's claim on which it will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). Once the movant has satisfied its burden, the nonmoving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 586. It must produce specific facts showing that a genuine issue remains. Plant v. Morton Int'l, Inc., 212 F.3d 929, 934 (6th Cir.2000). If, after reviewing the record in its entirety, a rational fact finder could not find for the nonmoving party, summary judgment should be granted. Ercegovich v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 154 F.3d 344, 349 (6th Cir. 1998).

Moreover, the trial court is not required to "search the entire record to establish that it is bereft of a genuine issue of material fact." Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1479-80 (6th Cir.1989). Rather, the "nonmoving party has an affirmative duty to direct the court's attention to those specific portions of the record upon which it seeks to rely to create a genuine issue of material fact." In re Morris, 260 F.3d 654, 655 (6th Cir. 2001).

B. Plaintiff's Claims Against Unknown Police Officers

In his Complaint (Doc. # 2), Plaintiff asserts several federal and state law claims against "Defendant John Doe, unknown person or persons." However, Plaintiff has yet to identify these "unknown" defendants or serve them with civil summonses and the Complaint. Federal Rule of Civil Procedures 4(m) states, in pertinent part:

If a defendant is not served within 120 days after the complaint is filed, the court... must dismiss the action without prejudice against that defendant or order that service be made within a specified time. But if the plaintiff shows good cause for the failure, the court must extend the time for service for an appropriate period.

Plaintiff filed his Complaint on July 8, 2011 (Doc. # 2). Plaintiff had until august 13, 2013 to complete discovery. (Doc. # 24). Despite the lengthy and extended discovery period, Plaintiff has yet to identify any John Doe defendants and, therefore, failed to serve them with civil summonses and the Complaint, clearly in violation of the time limit provided by Rule 4(m). Plaintiff has been given ample time to conduct discovery and obtain the names of the unknown defendants and has not shown good cause for his failure to effectuate service. Accordingly, any claims asserted against John Doe Defendants in this action must be DISMISSED. See Petty v. Cnty. of Franklin, 478 F.3d 341, 345-46 (6th Cir. 2007) (affirming district court's dismissal of John Doe defendants because Plaintiff failed to specifically name the John Doe defendants after the close of discovery).

C. Section 1983 Claims

Title 42, Section 1983 of the United State Code specifically authorizes "any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof" to pursue "an action at law [or] suit in equity" against every person who under color of state law "causes... the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws[.]" 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Neuens v. City of Columbus, 303 F.3d 667, 670 (6th Cir. 2002). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must establish both that the defendant acted under color of state law and that the defendant deprived the plaintiff of a federal statutory or constitutional right. Marvin v. City of Taylor, 509 F.3d 234, 243 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Sigley v. City of Parma Heights, 437 F.3d 527, 533 (6th Cir. 2006)).

1. Fourth Amendment ...

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