United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
William O. Bertelsman, United States District Judge.
civil rights action was brought by Plaintiff Neil Degolia
after he was arrested for public intoxication and taken to
the Kenton County Detention Center, where Degolia alleges
deputies threw him to the floor in the booking area and beat
him, causing a black eye and injuries to his jaw, and then
secured him in a restraint chair for just over two hours.
Consistent with the surveillance video that captured these
events, Degolia maintains he did not provoke the incident.
Complaint contains the following six counts:
Count I: Violation of the federal and state
constitutional prohibition against the “use of
excessive force” by virtue of the deputies' conduct
in the booking area.
Count II: Violation of the federal and state
constitutional protection against the “use of excessive
force” and “cruel and unusual punishment”
as a result of the deputies' use of the restraint chair.
Count III: State-law negligence.
Count IV: Assault and battery under state
Count V: Intentional and negligent
infliction of emotional distress.
Count VI: Respondeat superior as
the basis for imposing liability on Kenton County, Kenton
County Fiscal Court, and Kenton County Detention Center.
matter is now before the Court on several motions that all
boil down to cross-motions for summary judgment. Those
motions are as follows: (1) Defendants' joint motion for
summary judgment on all claims (Doc. 61); (2) Plaintiff's
cross-motion for summary judgment on the issues of qualified
immunity and the use of excessive force (Doc. 63); (3)
Defendants' joint motion to strike plaintiff's motion
for summary judgment (Doc. 64); (4) Plaintiff's motion
for an extension of time to file a dispositive motion (the
previously filed Doc. 63) or deny Defendants' motion to
strike (Doc. 67); and (5) Plaintiff's motion for leave to
file an affidavit as a surreply to the motion to strike (Doc.
74). The Court previously heard oral argument on the
parties' motions and took the matter under submission.
reasons that follow, the Court will GRANT IN PART and DENY IN
PART Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, and GRANT
IN PART and DENY IN PART Defendants' motion for summary
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
case, the material facts of the events in question were
captured by several video recording devices. Thus, heeding
the instruction of the Supreme Court and Sixth Circuit, the
Court “view[s] the facts in the light depicted by the
videotape[s]” as set forth below, Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 381 (2007), and “any
relevant gaps or uncertainties left by the videos” are
construed “in the light most favorable to the
Plaintiff.” Latits v. Phillips, 878 F.3d 541,
544 (6th Cir. 2017).
late in the evening on March 4, 2017, Degolia drank
approximately four tall draft beers at a bar in Covington,
Kentucky, the last of which was ingested around 2:00 AM on
March 5. (Doc. 61-3, Degolia Dep. at 66). Degolia then walked
to a nearby pizza restaurant. Id. at 61-66.
According to Degolia, he was waiting in line when the staff
ordered everyone out due to a disagreement that had erupted
between an employee and a woman standing in front of Degolia.
Id. at 63-65, 70-71.
outside the restaurant, Degolia was confronted by police
officers at approximately 2:40 AM. (Doc. 1, ¶10); (Doc.
61-2). Body camera footage shows an officer approach Degolia
on the sidewalk and ask him to leave. (Doc. 54, Ulrich
Bodycam at 1:17-20). When Degolia questions the order, an
officer instructs Degolia to “walk away” or be
arrested. Id. at 1:20-26. Degolia initially agrees
but then reengages in conversation with the officer and
proposes that “if you walk, I'll walk.”
Id. at 1:27-38. The proposition is not appreciated,
and the officer grabs Degolia to arrest him. Id. at
1:38-41. The image is obscured, but it is evident that
Degolia is reluctant to put his hands behind his back.
Id. at 1:41-2:06. Once in handcuffs, Degolia is
compliant but visibly and audibly disgruntled. Id.
was cited for public intoxication. (Doc. 1, ¶ 10); (Doc.
61-2). The citation states that Degolia “was extremly
[sic] intoxicated” and “unsteady on
feet” and had “slurred speech” and
“bloodshot watery eyes.” (Doc.
61-2). At approximately 2:56 AM, Degolia was
transported to Kenton County Detention Center (“KC
Detention Center”). (Doc. 1, ¶ 10; Doc. 61-2).
Sally Port at the Detention Center
surveillance (without any audio) shows Degolia arriving at
the sally port around 3:03 AM, accompanied by two officers.
(Doc. 54, Sally 4 at 3:03:41-55). As Degolia waits to enter
the facility, he is seen leaning nonchalantly against the
wall, id. at 3:03:56-3:05:41, until an officer near
the intake door motions for Degolia to approach. Id.
entering the booking area, Degolia was searched in an
enclosed vestibule between the sally port and the booking
area. At 3:07 AM, surveillance footage shows a deputy leading
Degolia in handcuffs into the vestibule without conflict,
after which Degolia's handcuffs are removed. (Doc. 54,
Booking Search at 3:07:32-54). The intake deputy seen
conducting the search is Defendant Aaron Branstutter. (Doc.
61-4, Branstutter Dep. at 50-51). At the time, Branstutter
had been an employee for just shy of seven months. See
Id. at 25. Branstutter stands about 5' 8” and
weighs 225 pounds. Id. at 20. Degolia is 6'
0” and weighs roughly 210 pounds. (Doc. 61-3 at 54).
search vestibule, the video shows Degolia remove his belt,
shoes, and something from his wrist, and place his hands on
an adjacent wall according to Branstutter's directions.
(Doc. 54, Booking Search at 3:07:54-3:09:29). Branstutter
then searches Degolia without incident. Id. at
3:09:29-3:10:23. Degolia is shown exiting the search
vestibule where Branstutter remained. (Doc. 54, Booking
Search at 3:10:23-34). Although Degolia had just been charged
with public intoxication, a fact Branstutter was aware of at
the time, (Doc. 61-4 at 68), Branstutter reported on
the intake assessment form he completed that Degolia did not
engage in any assaultive or violent behavior. (Doc.
1-1); (Doc. 1, ¶ 11).
Takedown and Restraint in the Booking Area
footage shows Degolia enter the booking area at 3:10 AM,
without handcuffs, and approach the booking counter to
complete paperwork. (Doc. 54, Booking Admin Pt. 1 at
3:10:35-47). The booking clerk interacting with Degolia from
behind the counter is Katlyn Beatty. (Doc. 61-5, Beatty Dep.
at 10, 49-50).
thereafter, Defendant Michael Crouthers is seen entering the
booking area and stands a few feet behind Degolia. (Doc. 54,
Booking Admin Pt. 1 at 3:11:07- 14). Less than two minutes
later, Degolia turns and appears to say something to
Crouthers, and then casually sits down in a chair in front of
the booking counter. Id. at 3:12:41-54. Beatty
testified that prior to Degolia sitting down she was asking
him medical questions when Degolia told Beatty that he wanted
to talk to his attorney and did not want to answer any more
questions. (Doc. 61-5 at 53, 56). As a result, Beatty
suspended Degolia's booking, told him to sit down, and
called out the situation to those on the floor. Id.
at 53, 60-61, 65. Beatty testified that Degolia did not yell
at her, did not “cuss” at her, did not engage in
“violent behavior, ” and did not do anything
disruptive toward her or anyone else in the booking area.
(Doc. 61-5 at 83-84, 90-93, 95).
next two minutes, the video shows Degolia sitting in a chair
with his arms folded across his chest as Crouthers moves
about the booking area. (Doc. 54, Booking Admin Pt. 1 at
3:13:07-3:15:07). Crouthers then approaches Degolia from
behind and stands next to Degolia. Id. at
3:15:01-06. The two appear to engage in a brief conversation.
Id. at 3:15:07-35. Crouthers testified that at that
time he asked Degolia to stand up. (Doc. 61-7 at
69-70). Crouthers, nevertheless, walks away and
Degolia returns to folding his arms across his chest. (Doc.
54, Booking Admin Pt. 1 at 3:15:07-53).
to the surveillance footage, at approximately 3:16 AM
Defendant Branstutter enters the booking area from the search
vestibule and touches Degolia's shoulder on the way to
delivering some paperwork to the booking counter.
Id. at 3:16:00-04. Branstutter, thereafter, pauses
next to Degolia and there is a brief exchange of inaudible
words. Id. at 3:16:04-14. Degolia continues to sit and
fold his arms as Branstutter walks out of view in the
direction of the search vestibule behind Degolia.
Id. at 3:16:14-18. Branstutter testified that he
went back into the search vestibule to assist another deputy,
Defendant Amanda Armstrong. (Doc. 61-4 at 63). At this time,
Defendant Crouthers is at the end of the booking area
furthest from the surveillance camera (and from where Degolia
is sitting) and is walking toward Degolia. Id. The
only other individual that can be seen on the booking floor
is Nurse Gurren in a bright yellow top and white pants at the
booking counter, presumably speaking to someone.
Id.; (Doc. 61-5, Beatty Dep. at 84, 108, 113; Doc.
61-4 at 46, 129). Degolia is still sitting in the chair,
almost motionless, with his arms folded. (Doc. 54, Booking
Admin Pt. 1 at 3:16:15-22).
next one and one-half minutes of surveillance footage capture
events giving rise to this lawsuit. Id. at
3:16:18-3:17:39. At the beginning, Crouthers is seen walking
toward the surveillance camera near where Degolia is sitting.
Id. at 3:16:18- 20. Defendant Branstutter then walks
briskly into view from the direction of the search vestibule
just as Crouthers is nearing the door to the search
vestibule. Id. at 3:16:20-23. Crouthers and
Branstutter merge into synchronized paths and begin to
approach Degolia from the blind spot over his right shoulder.
Id. The two deputies flank Degolia on each side.
Id. at 3:16:22-24. Immediately, Branstutter grabs
Degolia underneath his left arm, Crouthers grabs
Degolia's right arm, and each deputy appears (almost
imperceptibly) to lift or tug at Degolia. Id. at
3:16:23-25. Degolia does not rise but quickly pulls his left
arm back from Branstutter just as Crouthers moves to set some
paperwork in his hand on the booking counter. Id. at
3:16:25-6. Branstutter testified that he does not
specifically recall whether he attempted to lift Degolia but
claims Degolia “went dead weight” and “just
didn't help . . . he didn't try to stand up.”
(Doc. 61-4 at 87, 91).
a split second, Branstutter quickly grasps Degolia's neck
with his right arm in a headlock-type chokehold and
forcefully slings Degolia to the left and onto the floor.
Id. at 3:16:26-30. Because Crouthers was busy
setting his paperwork down on the booking counter, his
reaction is slightly delayed as he scrambles to reach for
Degolia on the floor. Id.
Branstutter and Degolia come down on the floor, Branstutter
is positioned on top and still has Degolia in a headlock with
his right arm. Id. Less than a second elapses before
Branstutter begins using his left hand in a closed fist to
strike Degolia two to three times in the head region.
Id. at 3:16:30-31; id. at 3:16:31-35. With
both deputies on top of Degolia trying to restrain him,
Branstutter then delivers at least four more closed-fist
blows to Degolia's head. Id. at 3:16:35-41. A
struggle ensues with Degolia on his knees and the deputies on
top, but Branstutter maintains the headlock on Degolia as
each deputy wrestles to grab hold of one of Degolia's
arms. Id. at 3:16:40-54. Degolia eventually breaks
free of Branstutter's headlock, but the two deputies
remain on top of Degolia as they struggle to handcuff him.
Id. at 3:16:54- 3:17:01.
moment, Defendant Armstrong enters the booking area, walks to
where the skirmish is taking place (now several feet from
where Degolia was once sitting) and grabs hold of
Degolia's right hand. Id. at 3:17:02-13. Degolia
is shown lying face down and the deputies are able to
handcuff Degolia's hands behind his back. Id. at
3:17:13-23. Sergeant Landrum then walks into the scene and
observes as Defendants Branstutter, Crouthers, and Armstrong
finish restraining Degolia, lift him to his feet, and escort
him out of view. Id. at 3:17:23-41; (Doc. 61-7 at
incident report Sergeant Landrum later completed states that
he was “contacted by Deputy Branstutter via
institutional radio to report to booking for Inmate being
[sic] disruptive and failing to follow deputy
instructions.” (Doc. 1-3). Indeed, Branstutter
testified as well that he called for Landrum over the radio
prior to the takedown. (Doc. 61-4, Branstutter Dep. at
Inside Cell B2
is next seen on video surveillance in another area of the KC
Detention Center as he is led to booking cell B2 by Crouthers
and Branstutter, with Armstrong and Landrum in tow. (Doc. 54,
Booking Cells Pt. 1 at 3:17:44-49); (Doc. 61-4 at 111; Doc.
61-7 at 71). A different segment of video footage taken from
a handheld device (which includes audio) shows Degolia inside
the cell, kneeling with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Landrum is standing at Degolia's side while Crouthers is
holding Degolia's arms slightly elevated behind his back
and exerting downward pressure on Degolia's neck. (Doc.
54, Degolia Safety Chair at 0:00:00-06). For nearly a minute
Degolia is not resisting but is lamenting about what just
occurred in the booking area. Id. at 0:00:06-53.
asks Crouthers to “let go, ” and when Crouthers
does not comply with the request, Degolia begins to shout,
curse, and struggle. Id. at 0:00:53-1:06. Crouthers
and Landrum assist Degolia to his feet and walk him to the
“Safety Chair” stationed outside the cell.
Id. at 0:01:06-26.
The “Safety Chair”
Crouthers and Branstutter testified that it was Landrum's
decision to place Degolia in the Safety Chair. (Doc. 61-7 at
35-36, 72-73; Doc. 61-4 at 111-12). Outside Degolia's
cell, Branstutter and Crouthers are shown securing Degolia in
the Safety Chair with straps at seven points of contact.
(Doc. 54, Degolia Safety Chair at 0:01:26-0:04:21); (Doc.
61-4 at 112-12; Doc. 61-7 at 73-75, 91). Degolia's left
eye is already beginning to swell. There is some taunting and
jeering from Degolia and at one point, Degolia turns his head
to Crouthers and threatens to “snap your head right off
your fucking shoulders.” (Doc. 54, Degolia Safety Chair
deputies are able to secure Degolia in the chair without
incident. Nurse Gurren then appears in the frame, checks each
point of contact on the restraints, and signals her approval.
(Doc. 54, Degolia Safety Chair at 0:04:26-41); (Doc. 61-7 at
91; Doc. 61-4 at 46, 115). With Degolia secured in the Safety
Chair, overhead surveillance footage shows that Degolia was
wheeled into cell B2 at 3:23 AM. (Doc. 54, Booking Cells Pt.
1 at 3:23:05-3:24:57); (Doc. 61-7 at 91; Doc. 61-4 at
Landrum is in the cell with Degolia, Branstutter can be seen
on surveillance footage from outside the door rubbing and
stretching his left hand-the same hand used moments before to
strike Degolia repeatedly in the face. (Doc. 54, Booking
Cells Pt. 1 at 3:24:30-48). Degolia remained in the restraint
chair for just over two hours, until, as Degolia alleges and
records confirm, Degolia was released from the chair sometime
between 5:25 and 5:34 AM. (Doc. 1, ¶ 19); (Doc. 1-3,
Incident Report at 1); (Doc. 61-3 at 124); (Doc. 61-10).
at 5:36 AM, Degolia completed his booking paperwork, (Doc.
54, Booking Admin Pt. 2 at 5:36:33-5:44:02), and was
photographed and fingerprinted, (Doc. 54, Booking Print Pt. 1
at 5:44:14-5:51:25), all without any altercation. Degolia was
released that same day and is seen on surveillance video
exiting the KC Detention center at 12:35 PM. (Doc. 54,
Vestibule C20 at 12:35:23-27); (Doc. 61-7 at 108).
suffered a black eye, (Doc. 1-5), and he alleges jaw
injuries, a cracked molar, and emotional trauma, as well as
some residual soreness from the restraint cuffs on the Safety
Chair that lasted for a month after the incident. (Doc. 1,
¶¶ 33, 41, 52-57); (Doc. 61-3 at 23, 45, 112). This
lawsuit followed on December 14, 2017.
judgment under Rule 56 is appropriate only when the Court,
viewing the record as a whole and in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party, determines that there exists no
genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322-24 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248-50 (1986). “A genuine issue
of material fact exists when, ‘there is
sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury
to return a verdict for that party.'” White v.
Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Inc., 617 F.3d 472, 475-76
(6th Cir. 2010) (emphasis added) (quoting Anderson,
477 U.S. at 249). When the issue is a “pure question of
law, ” extraneous facts that do not bear on that
question are “immaterial.” See, e.g.,
Chappell v. City of Cleveland, 585 F.3d 901, 909-914
(6th Cir. 2009) (citing Scott, 550 U.S. at 381 n.8).
summary judgment standard does not change simply because the
parties presented cross-motions.” Profit Pet v.
Arthur Dogswell, LLC, 603 F.3d 308, 311 (6th Cir. 2010).
“[R]ather, a court must evaluate each party's
motion on its own merits, taking care in each instance to
draw all reasonable inferences against the party whose motion
is under consideration.” Id. (citations and
internal quotation marks omitted). “If the movant bears
the burden of persuasion at trial on the issue
contested”-whether it be a claim for relief or an
affirmative defense-“the evidence in the movant's
favor must be so powerful that no reasonable jury would be
free to disbelieve it.” 11 James Wm. Moore et al.,
Moore's Federal Practice § 56.40(c) (Matthew Bender
3d ed. 2018) [hereinafter “Moore's”];
Arnett v. Myers, 281 F.3d 552, 561 (6th Cir. 2002);
Calderone v. United States, 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th
Supreme Court, however, has “clarified the
summary-judgment standard for excessive-force claims,
rejecting the argument that the question of objective
reasonableness is ‘a question of fact best reserved for
a jury.'” Dunn v. Matatall, 549 F.3d 348,
353 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting Scott, 550 U.S. at 381
n.8). “At the summary judgment stage . . . once [the
court has] determined the relevant set of facts and drawn all
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party to the extent
supportable by the record . . . the reasonableness of [a
defendant's] actions . . . is a pure question of
law.” Id. (quoting Scott, 550 U.S. at
turning to the merits of the case, some housekeeping is
required to frame the procedural posture of this matter.
Degolia's Untimely Cross-Motion for Summary
problem here is that Degolia's response in opposition to
Defendants' motion for summary judgment was also
captioned as a cross-motion for summary judgment (Doc. 62),
and was filed nearly two weeks after the deadline for
dispositive motions. (Doc. 60). The Clerk of Court noted the
error in the docket and re-filed the same materials as
Degolia's cross-motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 63).
This, in turn, led to the host of motions now before the
considered the matter, the Court will grant Degolia's
motion for leave to file an affidavit as a surreply to the
motion to strike (Doc. 74), deny Defendants' motion to
strike (Doc. 64), and grant Degolia's subsequent motion
to extend the deadline to file a dispositive motion (Doc.
Degolia's cross-motion for summary judgment (Doc. 63) is
timely and appropriately before the Court. This does not
result in any prejudice to Defendants because Degolia moved
for summary judgment only as to the issues of qualified
immunity and the use of excessive force. These same issues
were fully briefed by the parties on Defendants' motion
for summary judgment and are “pure question[s] of
law” when video footage establishes the relevant
material facts. See, e.g., Scott, 550 U.S.
at 381. Accordingly, the Court will view the issues of
excessive force and qualified immunity as on cross-motions
for summary judgment.
Degolia's Amended Complaint
6, 2019, Degolia filed an Amended Complaint, alleging a
“Monell-style municipal liability claim
against the Kenton County Fiscal Court.” (Doc. 78,
¶ 85). Previously, at oral argument, Degolia's
counsel had suggested they might amend the Complaint to add
such a claim and the Court indicated that the amendment would
be permitted. After further consideration, however, the Court
time period for amendments has passed, and thus “a
party may amend its pleading only with the opposing
party's written consent or the court's leave.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)-(2). Although a court “should
freely give leave [to amend a complaint] when justice so
requires, ” it is within a district court's
discretion to permit the amendment. Tucker v.
Middleburg-Legacy Place, LLC, 539 F.3d 545, 551 (6th
Cir. 2008). It may be appropriate to deny leave to amend in
cases where there is “‘undue delay, bad
faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated
failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously
allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of
allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment,
etc.'” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182
(1962) (emphasis added)). At some point, a party's delay
justifies denying leave to amend when the “delay”
become “undue, ” “placing an unwarranted
burden on the court, ” or
“‘prejudicial,' placing an unfair burden on
the opposing party.” Bridgeport Music, Inc. v.
Dimension Films, 410 F.3d 792, 806 (6th Cir. 2005)
(quoting Morse v. McWhorter, 290 F.3d 795, 800 (6th
Cir. 2002)). “When amendment is sought at a late stage
in the litigation, there is an increased burden to show
justification for failing to move earlier.” Wade v.
Knoxville Utils. Bd, 259 F.3d 452, 459 (6th Cir. 2001).
undue delay exists. Degolia has offered no explanation or
justification for having waited a nearly a year and a half
since the commencement of this action before amending his
Complaint to add an explicit Monell claim. Degolia
originally named Kenton County, Kenton County Fiscal Court,
and the KC Detention Center, but asserted his claims against
these entities under a respondeat superior theory.
Discovery was then conducted, both parties moved for summary
judgment, the parties briefed the liability of these
entities, and oral argument was held. (Doc. 61-1 at 27-28;
Doc. 63 at 20-21; Doc. 65 at 9-10). An amendment to the
Complaint at this late in the proceedings would prejudice
however, is not prejudiced by this result. As explained
infra Part III, Degolia's Complaint effectively
alleged a Monell claim by virtue of having sued the
individual Defendants in their official capacity. Degolia has
simply failed to develop his § 1983 claims against the
named municipality and its subdivisions. But justice does not
require another period of discovery and a second bite at the
the Amendment Complaint tendered to the Court (Doc. 78), will
be stricken from the record.
§ 1983 CLAIMS (COUNTS I & II) - INDIVIDUAL
brings Counts I and II of the Complaint under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and asserts that he was deprived of his federal
constitutional right to be free from excessive force and
cruel and unusual punishment. (Doc. 1, ¶¶
26-41). In defense, Defendants assert that they
are insulated by qualified immunity.
raised, it is the plaintiff's burden to show that the
defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity.”
Burgess v. Fischer, 735 F.3d 462, 472 (6th Cir.
2013). Qualified immunity does not apply if: (1) the facts,
viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, “show
the officer's conduct violated a constitutional
right” and (2) “the right was clearly established
. . . in light of the specific context of the case.”
Scott, 550 U.S. at 377 (quoting Saucier v.
Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001)). The sequence in which
each step is addressed is discretionary. Pearson v.
Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009). But if either is not
satisfied, qualified immunity will shield the officer from
civil damages. Id.
excessive-force claim may arise under the Fourth, Eighth, or
Fourteenth Amendments depending on ‘whether the
plaintiff was a free citizen, convicted prisoner, or
fit in some gray area in between the two.'”
Kulpa v. Cantea, 708 Fed.Appx. 846, 851 (6th Cir.
2017) (emphasis added) (quoting Burgess, 735 F.3d at
472). Although Degolia pled his claims of excessive force and
cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, the
parties agree that the Fourth Amendment provides the
appropriate lens, (Doc. 62 at 16), and rightly so. Phelps
v. Coy, 286 F.3d 295, 300-01 (6th Cir. 2002) (holding
that the Eighth Amendment did not apply to claims of
excessive force during the booking process). It follows then
that Degolia's claim that he was subjected to cruel and
unusual punishment is subsumed by his excessive force claims.
See Hopper v. Plummer, 887 F.3d 744, 751-54 (6th
Amendment protections, including those against excessive
force, ‘continue during booking' and at all times
‘prior to a probable-cause hearing.'”
Hanson v. Madison Cty. Det. Ctr., 736 Fed.Appx. 521,
528 (6th Cir. 2018) (quoting Aldini v. Johnson, 609
F.3d 858, 865, 867 (6th Cir. 2010)). When assessing excessive
force claims, the standard applied is solely an objective
one. Id. at 528 & n.5. That is, “a
pretrial detainee must show only that the force purposely or
knowingly used against him was objectively
unreasonable.” Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135
S.Ct. 2466, 2473 (2015); Hopper, 887 F.3d at
a particular use of force was objectively reasonable
“turns on the ‘facts and circumstances of each
particular case.'” Kingsley, 135 S.Ct. at
2473 (quoting Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396
(1989)). Courts must view the circumstances “from the
perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, ” and
not with “the 20/20 vision of hindsight” due to
the reality that “officers are often forced to make
split-second judgments-in circumstances that are tense,
uncertain, and rapidly evolving-about the amount of force
that is necessary in a particular situation.”
Graham, 490 U.S. at 396-97; Mullins v.
Cyranek, 805 F.3d 760, 765-66 (6th Cir. 2015). In the
context of a detainee in a government facility, courts
“must also account for the . . . need to manage the
facility” and, where appropriate, should defer to
“policies and practices that in th[e] judgment of jail
officials are needed to preserve internal order and
discipline and to maintain institutional security.”
Kingsley, 135 S.Ct. at 2473 (alteration in
original). The analysis thus includes a “built-in
measure of deference to the officer's on-the-spot
judgment about the level of force necessary in light of the
circumstances of the particular case.”
Mullins, 805 F.3d at 766 (citations omitted).
Therefore, the officer's “underlying intent or
motivation, ” whether it be “good” or
“evil, ” has no part in the analysis.
Graham, 490 U.S. at 396-97; Kingsley, 135
S.Ct. at 2472-73.
this backdrop, the “totality of the
circumstances” must be evaluated. Graham, 490
U.S. at 396 (quoting Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S.
1, 8-9 (1985)). In the pre-trial context, a non-exhaustive
list of relevant factors include: (1) “the relationship
between the need for the use of force and the amount of force
used”; (2) “the extent of the plaintiff's
injury”; (3) “any effort made by the officer to
temper or to limit the amount of force”; (4) “the
severity of the security problem at issue”; (5)
“the threat reasonably perceived by the officer”;
and (6) “whether the plaintiff was
Kingsley, 135 S.Ct. at 2473 (emphasis added);
Hanson, 736 Fed.Appx. at 529; see also
Graham, 490 U.S. at 396 (noting that “the severity
of the crime at issue” is a relevant factor).
end, the litmus test is whether, on balance, an act of
“‘gratuitous violence' has been inflicted,
” See Coley v. Lucas Cty., Ohio, 799 F.3d 530,
539 (6th Cir. 2015), so as to cross “the
constitutional line” that lies beyond
“common-law assault.” Hanson, 736
Fed.Appx. at 530.
Analysis: The Deputies' Use of Force
this case involves multiple uses of force, the reasonableness
of the individual Defendants' actions must be analyzed
“in chronological ‘segments.” See,
e.g., Hanson, 736 Fed.Appx. at 529 (quoting
Dickerson v. McClellan, 101 F.3d 1151, 1162 (6th
Cir. 1996)); Morrison v. Bd. of Trs., 583 F.3d 394,
401 (6th Cir. 2009). Moreover, “[e]ach defendant's
liability must be assessed individually based on [their] own
actions.” Binay v. Bettendorf, 601 F.3d 640,
650 (6th Cir. 2010).
case involves the actions of Defendants Armstrong, Crouthers,
and Branstutter, each with varying roles in four discrete
uses of force: (1) the initial takedown and restraint in the
booking area (including the use of a chokehold and
closed-fist strikes immediately following the takedown); (2)
the events immediately following in cell B2; (3) the use of
the restraint chair; and (4) the extended use of the
restraint chair for more than two hours.
evaluating the circumstances, “where, as here, there is
‘a videotape capturing the events in question,' the
court must ‘view the facts in the light depicted by
the videotape.'” Green v. Throckmorton,
681 F.3d 853, 859 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Scott,
550 U.S. at 378-81). At the summary judgment stage,
Scott then “instructs [courts] to determine as
a matter of law whether the events depicted on the video . .
. show that the Officers' conduct was objectively
reasonable.” E.g., Dunn, 549 F.3d at
353; Scott, 550 U.S. at 381 n.8 (“[T]he
reasonableness of [the defendants'] actions . . . is a
pure question of ...