United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
N. PARRISH UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
action arises from an armed standoff between law enforcement
and Plaintiff's fiancé, Aaron Collier, which
concluded with Collier's death by a self-inflicted
gunshot wound. Plaintiff's complaint presents nineteen
causes of action under federal and state law against
twenty-five defendants, including law enforcement officials
from Ogden City, Weber County, and the State of Utah. While
the complaint makes little effort to distinguish which claims
are directed at which of the many defendants, the essence of
Plaintiff's claims is this: During the standoff, police
handcuffed her, detained her in a police cruiser, transported
her to a police station for additional questioning, and
breached her home without a warrant. All this, Plaintiff
alleges, was done unlawfully.
before the Court are the following motions: Plaintiff's
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Against Home Search
Defendants (ECF No. 201), Plaintiff's Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment Against False Arrest Defendants (ECF No.
206), Ogden City Defendants' Cross Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 238), Weber County Defendants' Cross
Motions for Summary Judgment (ECF Nos. 235, 244), Defendants
Bryce Weir and Armando Perez's Cross Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 245), State Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 220), and Weber County
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Takings Claims (ECF No.
227). For the reasons below, the Court denies Plaintiff's
motions and grants Defendants' motions.
freezing pre-dawn hours of November 11, 2012, Plaintiff
Stacee Lynn Chivers returned to her Ogden home after a night
of drinking. Accompanying her were her fiancé, Aaron
Collier, and two friends, Michael Lansky and Dezi Martinez.
was severely intoxicated and behaving erratically. Once
inside, he fought first with Lansky and then with Plaintiff
when she intervened. Plaintiff attempted to call the police,
but Collier took her phone and smashed it. When Plaintiff
tried to retrieve her phone, Collier grabbed her and pushed
her against a wall. Lansky and Martinez then distracted
Collier, and Plaintiff managed to take Collier's phone,
leave the home, and call 911. She told police dispatch that
Collier was uncharacteristically aggressive-yelling and
fighting. While Plaintiff was still on the line, Collier came
up behind her and snatched the phone from her hand. The
operator heard Plaintiff say “Leave me alone!”
just before the call terminated. The time was 2:24 a.m.
minutes later, Ogden Police Department Officers Bennett and
Caygle (who are not named in the complaint) responded to
Plaintiff's 911 call. Plaintiff let the officers into her
home and told them Collier was in the basement. As the
officers approached the stairs to the basement, they heard a
gun racking. Moments later, Collier ran up the stairs, firing
at the officers repeatedly with a .40 caliber handgun. The
officers drew their weapons, returned fire, and retreated
outside, where they set up a perimeter facing the front door.
Plaintiff and the two unarmed guests also left the home. In
the exchange, Collier fired seven rounds, and the officers
fired approximately eight. Neither officer was injured.
Collier, on the other hand, had been shot in the leg and
a.m., a notice of “SHOTS FIRED” went out over the
dispatch radio system, requesting immediate assistance to the
officers' location. Less than a minute later, the
dispatch radio system alerted responding officers that there
was “ONE GUNMAN IN THE BASEMENT.”
Brandon Whitehead of the Utah Highway Patrol was on patrol in
the area when he heard the “SHOTS FIRED” alert
and the request for backup. He arrived on the scene around
2:34 a.m., retrieved a rifle from the trunk of his cruiser,
and moved toward the house. Defendant Whitehead saw Plaintiff
and Lansky kneeling or crouching near the front yard.
Sergeant Steve Reaves of Ogden Police, who had since arrived
on scene, shouted to Defendant Whitehead, “Get these
people secured! I don't know what their involvement
is!” Defendant Whitehead repeatedly instructed
Plaintiff and Lansky to “get on the ground, both of
you” and to go “face down.” Plaintiff did
not comply with the order to go prone. Instead, she remained
kneeling on the ground, sobbing. Defendant Whitehead
approached Plaintiff and said “Put your hands behind
your back, ma'am.” Defendant Whitehead then turned
Plaintiff around, forced her face-down onto her stomach, and
applied pressure to her back as he brought her hands behind
her back and clicked the handcuffs on her
wrists. He then told her to “stand up for
me, stand up, ” lifted her to her feet, and walked her
to his cruiser. As Defendant Whitehead placed Plaintiff
inside, she protested that she had not done anything wrong
and asked “Is everyone OK?” Defendant Whitehead
responded, “I have no idea.” Defendant Whitehead
and another officer then secured Lansky in handcuffs and
placed him in another cruiser. Leaving Plaintiff in the
cruiser, Defendant Whitehead took up a position near the
other officers outside Plaintiff's home. The time was
approximately 2:36 a.m., and Plaintiff sat in the cruiser for
the next twenty-four minutes, handcuffed and alone.
Plaintiff sat in the cruiser, Lieutenant Jeffrey Pledger,
commander of the Ogden Metro SWAT Team, was alerted to the
standoff brewing with Collier. Upon request from Lieutenant
Will Cragun of Ogden City Police, who was already on the
scene, Defendant Pledger activated the SWAT team members.
2:50 a.m., an officer retrieved Defendant Whitehead's
keys, opened the door to his cruiser, and removed
Plaintiff's handcuffs. He and Plaintiff had the following
Plaintiff: Help me, please! I didn't do anything wrong.
I know, I know, Stacee. Stacee, right?
OK, I'm gonna take these cuffs off of you, OK?
Plaintiff: These cuffs are killing me; I don't know
why I'm locked up back here.
OK, look, all we did it was [sic] we didn't know what
was going on, OK?
Now that everything's straightened out, we're gonna
get you out of here, OK?
Plaintiff: I know, but do you have my dogs? Are my dogs
How many dogs do you have?
Plaintiff: Two little Shih Tzus; I just [inaudible] them
running down the street.
One Shih Tzu is sticking around, kay? I don't know
where the other one went.
responded with an inaudible phrase and some sobbing. The
conversation paused for a moment and then resumed when the
officer returned with one of Plaintiff's dogs:
Officer: Kay, Stacee? Here. I need you to calm down, OK?
just need to grab some information from you, OK? Kay, yeah,
this is the one that I seen around [sic].
Plaintiff: His name is Willie.
Officer: Willie? C'mere, Willie, c'mon.
Plaintiff: Willie, can you come here?
Officer: C'mere, c'mere.
then joined Plaintiff in the back seat of the cruiser. The
officer informed Plaintiff that all of her guests were safely
outside the home but that Collier was still in the basement.
He asked Plaintiff for basic information on Collier and
whether there were any more weapons in the home.He then asked
Plaintiff to draw a diagram of her home to orient officers
once they entered.Plaintiff complied, and for several
minutes, she explained to the officer the layout of her home,
including the entrances and exits, the upstairs bedrooms, the
bathrooms, the kitchen, the dining room, the basement, and
“where the first shots went off.” When asked
where Collier might be hiding, Plaintiff exclaimed, “I
don't know why he'd hide! I don't even understand
what's going on in his brain.” Plaintiff told the
officer that Collier was behaving uncharacteristically and
was intoxicated. As the conversation ended, the officer said
“OK, just hang out here, OK?” Then he closed the
Pledger, commander of the SWAT Team, arrived on-scene at
approximately 3:23 a.m. and established tactical command.
After speaking with officers already on the scene, Defendant
Pledger learned that Collier was alone inside the home. He
also learned that Collier had called a friend and said he
“would commit suicide.” Defendant Pledger
testified that, based on his initial understanding of the
situation, he was concerned “that we had a person who
was clearly intent on firing a weapon deliberately at police
officers and may do so again.”
Defendant Pledger's orders, arriving SWAT team members
were deployed around the home. Defendant Pledger and his
assistant, Corporal Troy Windsor, then set up a command post
in the back of the SWAT team's equipment truck, which was
parked outside of Plaintiff's home. From that location,
Defendant Pledger and other officers monitored negotiations,
discussed tactics, and oversaw on-scene conduct generally.
a.m., just after Defendant Pledger arrived on scene, another
officer, identifying himself as a negotiator, opened the
cruiser door and spoke to Plaintiff. He asked for additional
personal information about Collier. Plaintiff sobbed as she
responded. The encounter concluded with these words from the
officer: “OK, alright, uh, these officers here might
have a couple more questions for you, OK? Just relax and tell
‘em what you know, OK?” Then he closed the door.
than a minute later, Officer Erick Gonnuscio of the Ogden
Police Department opened the door and said, “Hi,
I'm Officer Gonnuscio with the Ogden City Police. I just
want to ask you a couple of questions. I know you've
already talked to a bunch of people and everything.”
Plaintiff responded with a tearful “OK.”
Defendant Gonnuscio interviewed Plaintiff regarding Collier,
their relationship, and the night's events. They
discussed whether Collier might be on some sort of narcotic
and what weapons he might have available to him in the home.
As they discussed Collier's uncharacteristic behavior,
Defendant Gonnuscio asked Plaintiff: “How likely is it
that he would end up shooting himself if we went in the
house? I know it's kinda hard to talk about, but is that
a possibility?” Plaintiff responded that she could not
rule it out because Collier was acting so strangely.
further discussion about Collier's weapons, Defendant
Gonnuscio said he might come back to ask more questions.
Plaintiff asked Defendant Gonnuscio to try to find her other
dog inside the home. Defendant Gonnuscio explained that the
officers were not planning to enter the home because Collier
was armed and they wanted to avoid a shootout. He said the
officers were trying to find a “peaceful resolution
here, . . . we're trying to get him to surrender and come
out.” When Plaintiff again expressed concern about her
other dog, Defendant Gonnuscio said, “If I see it,
I'll bring it to you, and then we can go from
there.” Defendant Gonnuscio told Plaintiff to
“sit tight” and closed the door.
a.m., SWAT personnel surrounding the home reported that
Collier had “peeked out the front door and window, then
closed the door again.” Approximately four minutes
later, Collier was seen at the rear door of the home, and
officers yelled to him to surrender. It was not clear to the
officers whether Collier still had his handgun. Collier then
retreated back out of sight.Defendant Pledger testified that
Collier “was seen to be moving through the home,
closing doors, turning off lights, peeking through windows,
and those kinds of things.” Defendant Pledger and other
officers suspected that these actions were an attempt to
“gain a tactical advantage over” the officers by
obscuring Collier's position in the home. Defendant
Pledger testified the following regarding the sightings of
there an opportunity to shoot Mr. Collier?
Would it have been possible for them to do so? Yes.
you consider doing that?
at those times it was possible to do so.
clearly wasn't a threat to someone other than himself.
Now he might have remained a potential threat to his own life
. . . but he was not a threat to any of my people or anyone
other than himself at those points.
Pledger testified that he could not recall any additional
instances where his team reported a sighting of Collier until
the SWAT shield team entered the home and found Collier's
body. He also could not recall any instance during the
standoff where Collier “threaten[ed] anyone” or
“yelled out of the home at anyone.” Sometime
before 4:00 a.m., Plaintiff's sister, Jaime, approached
officers to tell them that Collier had been calling her
cellphone. Defendant Pledger learned from Jamie that Collier
was “heavily intoxicated.” Defendant Pledger
connected Jaime with Defendant Weir, the chief negotiator on
the scene, to obtain further information regarding
Collier's current status and location in the home.
Defendant Weir determined that Jamie was an appropriate
candidate to act as a third-party intermediary who could
facilitate negotiations between the SWAT team and Collier.
From 4:00 a.m. onward, Jamie communicated intermittently with
Collier under the direct supervision of negotiation staff.
While Collier was occasionally willing to speak to Jaime, he
would not agree to exit the home or otherwise surrender to
after 4:00 a.m., Officer Bryce Weir of the Roy City Police
Department opened the cruiser door and spoke to Plaintiff.
After introducing himself, he asked, “Are you doing
OK?” He continued, “Hell of a night. Alright,
these guys are gonna be here with you, OK? If you need
something, please let them know. We appreciate your
help.” Defendant Weir asked if Plaintiff might be able
to draw another diagram of her home as needed. He then told
her to keep warm in the car and thanked her again for her
help. He also said that they planned to “get everybody
safe . . . including Aaron [Collier].” Then he shut the
door “to keep [Plaintiff] warm.”
several minutes, Defendant Weir returned and asked Plaintiff
to draw a more detailed diagram of her home. He also informed
Plaintiff that her sister was on-scene and assisting the
officers to coax Collier out of the home and “get him
any medical attention he needs.” Defendant Weir then
left to get Plaintiff some tissues, again closing the door.
He returned minutes later with tissues and offered Plaintiff
a granola bar. After additional discussion regarding the
layout of the home, Defendant Weir left Plaintiff in the
a.m., an officer, presumably Defendant Whitehead, entered the
cruiser complaining of the cold outside. At about the same
time, Defendant Pledger learned that Collier had reported to
Jamie that “he was dying” and abruptly ended the
phone call. Moments later, the negotiations staff
reestablished contact with Collier, who reported to Jamie
that he wanted a cigarette and that he had been shot
twice-once in the stomach and once in the knee. Collier
refused to elaborate on his purported wounds and refused to
exit the home when promised both medical care and a
cigarette. Further, he refused to tell Jamie or the officers
where he was located in the home.
a.m., Detective Rob Carpenter of the Weber County
Attorney's Office approached the cruiser and spoke with
Plaintiff. Their conversation follows:
Defendant Carpenter: This is Stacee? Hi, I'm Rob
Carpenter, how are you? You
Plaintiff: [no response]
Defendant Carpenter: No?
Defendant Carpenter: All right, this officer is going to take
you down to the police department right now, OK? And, uh,
he'll let you call whoever you need to call, OK? And see
to it that you get whatever you need to get. And we'll be
in touch with you, OK? This officer will probably come down
and interview you. Is that all right?
Defendant Carpenter: OK.
Plaintiff: I have my dog, but there's another one and I,
I don't know if he's OK or if he's wandering
around outside. I just want to make sure that he's all
Defendant Carpenter: What kind of dogs are they?
Plaintiff: Shih-Tzus [inaudible].
Defendant Carpenter: Just little dogs?
Defendant Carpenter: Oh, OK. Well, he's certainly not
causing any trouble. All right.
Officer Kory Checketts (Ogden City Police
Department): Is he the same color of dog?
Plaintiff: No, he's [inaudible].
Defendant Checketts: Black?
Defendant Carpenter: Blonde?
Plaintiff: Blonde, his name is Sugar.
Defendant Carpenter: What's his name?
Defendant Carpenter: Sugar?
Defendant Checketts: Sugar.
Defendant Carpenter: OK. All right. He'll be down to talk
to you. It's gonna be a long time, I won't kid you.
But they'll make you as comfortable as they can.
Defendant Carpenter: OK? All right, I'll be down to talk
Plaintiff: Did you want . . . here's the . . .
Defendant Carpenter: [inaudible conversation with Defendant
Defendant Weir: How's that drawing coming, there? Let me
take a look and see what you got.
point, Plaintiff continued to describe the layout of her home
to Defendant Weir, who told her, “You're doing
fantastic, thank you.” Plaintiff explained the location
of various rooms in the house as well as the location of
windows within those rooms. Defendant Weir again asked
Plaintiff about Collier's weapon and then left the
several minutes, officers standing outside the cruiser
discussed the number of cars in the driveway of
Plaintiff's home. Plaintiff volunteered without being
asked that there were two cars in the driveway. Defendant
Checketts then spoke with Plaintiff regarding the location
and ownership of the cars. In the middle of Plaintiff's
conversation with Defendant Checketts, Defendant Weir
returned one final time to ask Plaintiff about the windows in
the upstairs room of her home. Plaintiff and Defendant Weir
then discussed the officers' plan to get Collier to exit
the home and “get him medical attention.”
Plaintiff said that she did not want her home
“destroyed.” Defendant Weir assured Plaintiff
that the officers were not there to “hurt
[Collier]” or “to destroy property” and
indicated that the onus was on Collier to comply with
requests to exit the home and surrender. Defendant Weir
indicated that Collier was still extremely intoxicated and
“not thinking straight.”
this exchange, Defendant Checketts asked a few more questions
about Plaintiff's home, and Plaintiff explained the
layout of her backyard. Plaintiff described the situation as
a “nightmare” and again expressed her confusion
at Collier's behavior, explaining that he had “his
life together.” Soon, Defendant Weir returned and spoke
briefly with Defendant Checketts:
Defendant Weir: Hey Kory.
Defendant Checketts: Yeah?
Defendant Weir: I think we're good for the moment, so
whatever you guys gotta do. I'll call you if we have any
Defendant Weir: [to Plaintiff] Thank you so much, I
appreciate your help, OK? This is a good guy, he'll take
good care of you, OK? If you have questions, let him know.
Appreciate all your help. You can hold onto that box of
Kleenex if you need to, OK? Thank you. And I got information
on the dog as well-I'll let them know to keep an eye on
the dog, OK?
Defendant Weir: We'll get that squared away.
(Id. at 4:41:00-4:41:50). Defendant Weir and
Defendant Checketts then left Plaintiff alone in the cruiser
with her dog and Defendant Whitehead. After a few minutes of
silence, Plaintiff spoke to Defendant Whitehead:
Plaintiff: Hey, do you know why I need to go, just, they
wanna talk to me or why? Why?
Defendant Whitehead: Just because of the incident. They want
to talk to you, debrief from you [sic].
Plaintiff: Am I in trouble or something?
Defendant Whitehead: No, no.
Plaintiff: I just wanna know why they handcuffed me.
Defendant Whitehead: Well, that's because we get here and
we don't have any idea what's going on, we don't
know who's who. Something this serious, everybody gets
handcuffed ‘till we can figure it out.
a.m., Defendant Pledger learned that Collier had called
another friend and told him he “just wanted to end
it.” Defendant Weir, acting as chief negotiator,
concluded that Collier “was not making any apparent
efforts toward any particular outcome” and was becoming
“less willing to speak with negotiators, to the point
of hanging up on both negotiators and [Jamie] and then
refusing to answer the phone.” Defendant Weir told
Defendant Pledger and other officers at the command post that
Collier's cooperation with negotiators was deteriorating,
that he was still highly intoxicated, and that he “was
not responding to positive negotiation efforts.”
Furthermore, because Collier had been seen at various points
in the home, Defendant Pledger was concerned that the report
of injuries was an attempt “to lure officers back
inside under the ruse that he was injure[d] and dying so that
he could ambush them outright again, or force officers into
a.m., an officer walked up to Defendant Whitehead's
cruiser and instructed him to drop Plaintiff off in the back
parking lot of the police station where another officer would
be waiting. As Defendant Whitehead pulled away from the curb,
Plaintiff asked if he knew “by chance, how [her sister]
came to be here?” Defendant Whitehead responded that he
had “no idea.” Plaintiff then said, “OK, I
just wondered, because she had left.” Plaintiff and
Defendant Whitehead then departed the scene and drove to the
a.m., Plaintiff and Defendant Whitehead arrived at the police
station, where another officer was waiting to meet them.
Defendant Whitehead exited the vehicle and circled to the
rear passenger door, where he opened the door and said,
“All right, grab all your stuff. [Let's] get you
inside and get you warm.” Plaintiff then exited the
vehicle with her dog in her arms and followed the other
officer into the station. Approximately forty-five minutes
passed before Plaintiff actually entered the interview room.
There is little evidence of what occurred during that time
period, but Plaintiff testified that she was led through
hallways at the station until she encountered either Lansky
or Martinez. Subsequently, one of these men offered to hold
Plaintiff's dog while she was being interviewed. At 5:46
a.m., Plaintiff entered the interview room with Defendant
Goff. Plaintiff testified that she entered the interview room
“voluntarily” to answer questions in hopes of
resolving the situation. Defendant Goff gathered basic
information from Plaintiff about her name, phone number, and
occupation, and then had the following exchange:
Defendant Goff: You understand-I just want you to understand
that you're here voluntarily to explain to me what
happened tonight. It's gonna be a voluntary statement.
There's no duress here, I'm not making you do
anything. Everything you say is gonna be true and accurate to
the best of your knowledge-you're not gonna lie about
what happened. Uh, the information you give may be used in a
preliminary hearing that a judge could hear. Um, and I just
want you to understand that it's voluntary and-you're
good with that?
Defendant Goff: You ...