United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
JOEL D. NASELROAD, Plaintiff,
DENNIS MABRY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. REEVES, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
Kentucky State Police Trooper Dennis Mabry shot Plaintiff
Joel Naselroad during an investigation at Naselroad’s
home. A jury trial is scheduled to commence on February 25,
2020, during which Naselroad will present the following
claims: 1) excessive force in violation of the Fourth
Amendment to the United States Constitution under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983; 2) state-law assault and battery; and 3)
state-law malicious prosecution. Mabry has filed a motion
in limine seeking exclusion of certain evidence at
trial. [Record No. 185');">185] The motion will be granted, in part,
and denied, in part, for the reasons that follow.
action arises out of events that occurred on October 8, 2013,
at the residence where Naselroad lived with his parents in
Winchester, Kentucky. The details concerning the incident
have been relayed in previous opinions, so only the basic
facts will be repeated here. Defendant Mabry, along with
officers Mark Craycraft, John Gurley, and Robert Puckett went
to the Naselroad residence to investigate a tip that
marijuana was growing on the property. The officers did not
have a search warrant but intended to conduct a knock and
and Gurley knocked on the door, which was answered by the
plaintiff’s mother Jeannie. The officers introduced
themselves and explained that they were there to investigate
a report of marijuana growing on the property. Around that
same time, the plaintiff, armed with a handgun and dressed in
camouflage, exited through the back door of the residence.
The parties dispute what happened next, but Naselroad
concedes that he held his gun in the “low ready”
position when confronted by Mabry and Craycraft in the
backyard. Ultimately, Mabry shot Naselroad once in the chest
when he did not drop his weapon.
was transported to a hospital and officers continued their
investigation at the residence. Naselroad was later indicted
on state charges of cultivation and possession of marijuana,
possession of drug paraphernalia, and three counts of wanton
endangerment. He was convicted on the possession charges, but
acquitted on the three counts of wanton endangerment.
Naselroad subsequently filed suit against the officers and
their employers alleging a host of federal civil rights and
state law claims. Following a somewhat arduous procedural
history, which includes two trips to the United States Court
of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the matter is ready to
proceed to trial. As noted above, Naselroad’s only
remaining claims are against Defendant Mabry for use of
excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, assault
and battery, and malicious prosecution.
motion in limine is ‘any motion, whether made
before or during trial, to exclude anticipated prejudicial
evidence before the evidence is actually
offered.’” Louzon v. Ford Motor Co., 718
F.3d 556, 561 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting Luce v. United
States, 469 U.S. 38, 40 n.2 (1984)). Courts should
exclude evidence on a motion in limine only when the
challenged evidence is clearly inadmissible. Morningstar
v. Circleville Fire & EMS Dep’t, No. 2: 15-cv-
3077, 2018 WL 3721077, at *1 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 6, 2018).
Motions in limine which seek to exclude broad
categories of evidence are usually denied. When there is an
arguable basis for admitting the challenged evidence,
“[t]he better practice is to deal with questions of
admissibility as they arise.” Id. (quoting
Sperberg v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 519 F.2d
708, 712 (6th Cir. 1975)). Whether to grant a motion in
limine falls within the trial court’s discretion.
Id. (citing Delay v. Rosenthal Collins Grp.,
LLC, No. 2: 07-CV-568, 2012 WL 5878873, at *2 (S.D. Ohio
Nov. 21, 2012)).
seeks exclusion of any evidence suggesting that the knock and
talk or the officers’ entry onto the Naselroad property
was wrongful or unlawful. The plaintiff agrees that
introduction of such evidence would be improper, in light of
the Sixth Circuit’s determination that the officers
were entitled to qualified immunity regarding his claims of
unlawful intrusion onto the property. While the plaintiff may
not introduce evidence regarding the propriety of this
conduct (e.g., whether police exceeded the
“scope” of the knock and talk), some testimony
concerning the events may be admissible as res
gestae of the case.
also agrees that evidence concerning unrelated police
misconduct, other police shootings, or prior lawsuits
involving Mabry or any of the other officers will not be
introduced. Additionally, Naselroad concedes that evidence of
“other bad acts” by Mabry or any other police
officer is inadmissible, with the exception of Mabry’s
alleged conduct that forms the basis of Naselroad’s
malicious prosecution claim. Likewise, the plaintiff agrees
to refrain from offering evidence concerning Mabry’s
retirement from the Kentucky State Police and Mabry’s
right to statutory indemnity.
opposes Mabry’s request to exclude any evidence
regarding “facts that did not involve Mabry and were
unknown to him.” The Court agrees that this is an
overly-broad request, which is not excludable based on a
motion in limine. As Mabry points out, the
reasonableness of his use of deadly force depends on the
facts known to him at the time of the shooting. However,
which facts he knew at that time is a question for the jury.
Additionally, some information not known to Mabry may be
necessary to tell a complete story of the ...