United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. Wllhoit, Jr., Judge.
matter is before the Court upon Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment [Docket No. 42]. The issues have been fully
briefed by the parties [Docket Nos. 50 and 53]. For the
reasons set forth herein, this Court finds that the
Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
lawsuit involves allegations of excessive use of force
arising from the arrest of Julia Senters on December 9, 2014.
Senters alleges that Defendant Boyd County Sheriff Deputies
Jason Nattier, Scott Crawford and Greg Powers violated
Plaintiffs rights under the United States Constitution to be
free from unreasonable use of force and to receive due
process, as well as various state laws and that Defendants
Boyd County and Boyd County Sheriffs Office were negligent in
their training, retention and supervision of these Deputies.
She seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as
applicable fees and costs.
December 9, 2014, Plaintiff, Julia Senters was at her home on
Rockhouse Road in Boyd County, Kentucky with Aaron Niswonger
and Gregory George. [Docket No. 46');">46, Deposition of Julia
Senters, p. 108]. Senters cannot recall how long Niswonger
and George were at her house that day, but testified that
they were both drinking. Id. at pp.113-114.
between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m., a fight broke out between the
two men while Senters was in another room. Id. at
pp. 113-114. During the altercation, George sustained a large
cut on his head and scalp. Id. Senters formerly
worked in the medical field so she attempted to stop the
bleeding by stapling George's scalp. Id. at p.
point., Niswonger left Senters' home. Id.
Shortly thereafter, Senters drove George to his friend, Bill
Niswsonger's, Aaron's brother, house in Ashland.
Id. at p. 120. She then returned to her home and
"drank a few beers". Id. at p. 121.
he was at Bill Niswonger's house, George contacted the
Boyd County Sheriffs Department to report the assault. Deputy
Jason Nattier learned of the call at approximately 9 p.m.
[Docket No. 45');">45');">45');">45, Deposition of Jason Nattier, p. 50]. He
believed that the report would be within the jurisdiction of
the Ashland Police Department, but because he was familiar
with Bill's brother and the alleged attacker, Aaron
Niswonger, from past cases, he drove to Bill Niswonger's
house to assist with the call. Id. at. pp. 51-52.
arrival at the Niswonger home, Nattier spoke to George, who
told him he had been assaulted at Senters' home, which
confirmed that the incident was within the jurisdiction of
the Boyd County Sheriff. Id. at p. 54. Nattier
discerned that George had been drinking, but that he appeared
lucid enough to provide details of Aaron Niswonger's
assault on him. Id. George reported that he had been
drinking with some friends, including Aaron Niswonger,
earlier that night. Id. He stated that he had said
something which angered Aaron, who then began hitting and
kicking him. [Docket No. 41-1, KYIBRS REPORT]. According to
George, the attack did not stop until blood was visibly
coming out of his head. Id. Nattier also observed
the laceration on George's's head, as well as the
staples. [Docket No. 45');">45');">45');">45, p. 53]. After giving his statement
to Nattier, George was taken to Kings Daughters Medical
then began his investigation of the assault. He first went to
Aaron Niswonger's home but no one was there. [Docket No.
45');">45');">45');">45, p. 62]. He then drove to Senters' home and asked
Deputies Scott Crawford and Greg Powers to meet him there.
Id. at pp. 62-63.
Deputies parked their cruisers and walked up the hill to
Senters' house. Id. Nattier went to the front
door, Crawford stayed back in the yard near where a truck was
parked, and Powers went to the back of the house to ensure
that no one ran out that door. Id. at p. 64.
knocked on Senters' front door. Id. at p. 66.
Upon hearing the knock, Senters went to the window, looked
outside, and saw the deputies. [Docket No. 46');">46, p. 129].
Senters asked what they wanted and a deputy, she could not
recall which one, replied that they were looking for Aaron
Niswonger. Id. at pp. 130-131.
testified that she asked the deputies why they were looking
for Niswonger and one of them, she could not recall which
one, threatened to arrest her for practicing medicine without
a license. Id. Recognizing this to be a reference to
the fight between George and Niswonger, Senters opened the
door, went outside, and locked the door behind her.
Id. at pp. 132-133.
testified that one of the deputies asked to come inside,
saying he would probably find blood. Id. at pp.
136.137. Senters refused consent for the deputies to go in
her home. Id.
then asked for Senters' identification. Id. at
p. 138. Without objecting, she unlocked the door and went
inside to get her driver's license. Id. She
returned back to the porch and locked the door behind her
returning with her license, Senters handed it to Nattier.
Id. at pp. 139-140. Nattier took her license, looked
at it, and explained to her that he needed to verify her
information because she was a witness to a potential assault.
Id. at pp. 143-145');">45');">45');">45.
where the stories diverge.
testified that, at this point, Senters became verbally
combative. According to Nattier, when he asked for her social
security number Senters said "why do you F***ing need
it?". He said because he asked for it. [Docket No. 42-2,
Transcript of Jury Trial]. According to Nattier, Senters said
to him, "give me my stuff as she swung her right arm
around toward his left hand in which he held her wallet and
identification. Id. Nattier testified that he moved
his hands out of the way and told her she was under arrest.
testified that after she gave Nattier her license, the
officers asked whether Niswonger was in her house but she
denied that he was inside. [Docket No. 45');">45');">45');">45, pp. 143-145');">45');">45');">45]. When
she denied Niswonger was in the house, Senters claims the
officers called her a "lying bitch" and a
"liar" and, as a result, she became
"very" upset. Id. Because she was upset,
she threw her arms in the air, and yelled
"bullsh***!" When she did this, Senters estimates
that she was close to the officer, only between 2 and 5 feet
away. Id. at p. 149.
to both Nattier and Crawford, Senters did not merely throw
her arms in the air, but, rather, swung her arm at Nattier as
if she was attempting to strike him. [Docket No. 45');">45');">45');">45, pp.
testified that one of the deputies told her she was under
arrest and immediately took her to the ground. [Docket No.
46');">46. p. 150]. Senters admits that she was ordered to put her
arms behind her back, but claims that her body landed on her
left arm and she was unable to bring it around behind her
body in order to be handcuffed. Id., at pp. 159-161.
then warned Senters that she would be tased if she failed to
bring her arm behind her back, but she still did not do it
because her ...