United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville
DANIELLE CLEVELAND and DOMINIQUE WICKER, as Co-Administrators of the ESTATE OF DARNELL WICKER PLAINTIFFS
LOUISVILLE METRO GOVERNMENT d/b/a LOUISVILLE METRO POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al . DEFENDANTS
Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge
matter is before the Court on the joint motion of Defendants
Taylor Banks, Beau Gadegaard, and Brian Smith (“the
Officers”) seeking partial dismissal of the claims
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), ECF No. 32.
The Officers also jointly moved for a more definite statement
of one of the claims under Rule 12(e), ECF No. 33. Plaintiffs
Danielle Cleveland and Dominique Wicker (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”), as co-administrators of the estate
of Darnell Wicker, addressed both motions in a single
response, ECF No. 35. The Officers jointly replied, ECF No.
these motions involve the same facts and similar issues, the
Court will address them together in a single memorandum
opinion and order. For the reasons discussed below, the Court
will grant the Officers' Rule 12(b)(6) motion for partial
dismissal and will deny their Rule 12(e) motion for a more
Allegations in the Amended Complaint
assert that Darnell Wicker was an African American landscaper
and handyman. Compl. ¶¶ 11, 14, ECF No. 30. He
“could often be found in his neighborhood riding his
bicycle down the street, dragging his lawnmower behind, and
carting a bucket of hand tools.” Id. Wicker
apparently had difficulty with his hearing. Id.
¶ 13. He could only understand people if they stood
close to him and spoke “very loudly.”
Id. And when he watched television, he turned the
volume up so loudly that other people left the room.
lived with his girlfriend, Anita Jones, at an apartment
located at 4509 Broadleaf Drive in Louisville, Kentucky.
Id. ¶ 15. Wicker's relationship with Jones
was volatile. Id. ¶ 16. During the time
relevant to the complaint, Wicker had been staying out late,
which frustrated Jones. Id. ¶ 17.
August 7, 2016, Jones and Wicker spent the evening away from
their apartment. Id. ¶ 18. Late that night,
Wicker returned to their apartment. Id. ¶ 19.
He arrived before Jones. Id. He began cooking French
fries. Id. ¶ 20. He was still cooking French
fries when Jones returned. Id. Jones asked Wicker to
leave the apartment. Id. ¶ 21. Jones then
walked outside of the apartment to talk to her adult
daughter, Denita, in the apartment's parking lot.
in the parking lot, Denita called 911 and reported that
Wicker had kicked in the apartment door and was walking
around the area with knives and a saw. Id. ¶
22. Two police cruisers were accordingly dispatched to the
apartment complex. Id. ¶ 25. Neither Denita nor
Jones told Wicker that the police had been called.
Id. ¶ 24. Wicker carried some of his
possessions out of the apartment and set them outside of the
apartment's door. Id. ¶ 26. He then went
back into the apartment. Id.
approximately 1:45 A.M., Officer Smith, who is white, arrived
at the apartment complex. Id. ¶¶ 7, 27.
Officer Smith was wearing a black uniform. Id. He
did not activate his light bar or siren on his police
cruiser. Id. The apartment complex's parking lot
was dark. Id.
Smith began talking in the parking lot to Jones and Denita
about the situation. Id. ¶ 28. As Officer Smith
was speaking to Jones and Denita, the door to the apartment
opened. Id. ¶ 29. Officer Smith began to
approach the apartment. Id. He walked between two
parked cars, came around a stairwell, and stopped more than
20 feet from the apartment door, where Wicker was exiting the
apartment. Id. ¶ 30. Officer Smith shined his
high-powered flashlight directly at Wicker. Id.
point, Wicker's bucket of hand tools was directly outside
the apartment door. Id. ¶ 32. Wicker was
holding a pruning saw by the handle in his left hand, which
was at his side. Id. The pruning saw was pointed
towards the ground. Id. Wicker stepped onto the
welcome mat with his left foot. Id. ¶ 33.
Wicker began stepping onto the welcome mat with his left
foot, Officer Smith commanded him to “drop it, ”
referring to the pruning saw. Id. ¶ 34. Wicker
then placed his right foot also onto the welcome mat, in the
direction of his tool bucket, outside the apartment door.
Id. ¶ 35. Plaintiffs assert that Wicker
intended to put the pruning saw in the tool bucket.
before Officer Smith began issuing commands to Wicker,
Officers Banks and Gadegaard, who are both white, arrived at
the apartment complex in their police cruiser. Id.
¶¶ 5, 6, 36. Officers Banks and Gadegaard had been
disproportionately arresting, citing, and using force against
black citizens. Id. ¶ 62. Like Officer Smith,
they had not activated their light bar or siren on their
police cruiser. Id. They also were wearing black
uniforms. Id. Officers Banks and Gadegaard ...