United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
STEWART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment. Plaintiff has failed to respond to the
Motion and the time for doing so has expired. For the reasons
discussed below, the Court will grant the Motion.
action arises out of Plaintiff's arrest on July 7, 2013.
In early July 2013, the Metro Gang Unit of the Unified Police
Department of Greater Salt Lake began actively searching for
Plaintiff. Plaintiff was a known gang member with several
outstanding arrest warrants. He was also wanted for
questioning for a kidnapping, burglary of a dwelling, and an
assault on a police officer that occurred during the first
week of July 2013.
were provided information on where Plaintiff might be
located. Officers went to the location and a stop was
conducted on a vehicle in which Plaintiff was a passenger.
The vehicle stopped and officers approached the vehicle
shouting commands at Plaintiff to show his hands and exit the
vehicle. Plaintiff ignored the officers' commands and
began to struggle with the driver of the vehicle. Plaintiff
attempted to gain control of the vehicle, grabbing the
steering wheel, and revving the engine. The tires of the
truck were spinning and beginning to smoke. Officers were
concerned that they would have been hit had the truck been in
officer then shot out the driver's side tires, at which
point one of the occupants of the vehicle jumped out.
Plaintiff then reached over and shut the door of the vehicle,
locking it. Officers continued to shout commands at
Plaintiff, which he ignored. During this time, Plaintiff
engaged in a series of furtive movements inside the vehicle.
Simonelli then broke one of the truck's windows. A K-9
unit was deployed in the vehicle by Sergeant Reyes to help
apprehend Plaintiff. The dog latched on to Plaintiff's
leg. Despite being bitten by the dog, Plaintiff refused to
comply with the officers' commands. At that point,
Officer Afatasi administered several “distraction
strikes” to Plaintiff's upper shoulder and face,
but Plaintiff continued to resist.
were finally able to remove Plaintiff from the truck. Once
outside the truck, Plaintiff was placed on the ground.
Officers were able to get one of Plaintiff's arms free to
place handcuffs on him. However, Plaintiff kept his other arm
under his body, continuing to resist efforts to handcuff him.
Officer Van Emmerik then placed his knee into the side of
Plaintiff's neck to gain compliance. A number of officers
wrestled with Plaintiff until they were finally able to get
him into custody.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” In considering whether a genuine dispute
of material fact exists, the Court determines whether a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party in the face of all the evidence
presented. The Court is required to construe all
facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party.
If the nonmoving party fails to respond, the district court
may not grant the motion without first examining the moving
party's submission to determine if it has met its initial
burden of demonstrating that no material issues of fact
remain for trial and the moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. If it has not, summary judgment is not
appropriate, for [n]o defense to an insufficient showing is
failing to respond, Plaintiff “waives the right to
respond or to controvert the facts asserted in the summary
judgment motion.” “The court should accept as true
all material facts asserted and properly supported in the
summary judgment motion. But only if those facts entitle the
moving party to judgment as a matter of law should the court
grant summary judgment.”
a defendant asserts qualified immunity at summary judgment,
the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show that: (1) the
defendant violated a constitutional right and (2) the
constitutional right was clearly
established.” The Supreme Court has held that the Court
has discretion to determine “which of the two prongs of
the qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first in
light of the circumstances in the particular case at
hand.” “In determining whether the
plaintiff has met its burden of establishing a constitutional
violation that was clearly established, we will construe the
facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff as the
nonmoving party.” However, “a plaintiff's
version of the facts must find support in the
clearly established right is one that is sufficiently clear
that every reasonable official would have understood that
what he is doing violates that right.” The Supreme
Court has “repeatedly told courts . . . not to define
clearly established law at a high level of
generality.”“The dispositive question is
whether the violative nature of particular conduct is clearly
established. This inquiry must be undertaken in light of the
specific context of the case, not as a broad general
proposition.” This is especially true “in the
Fourth Amendment context, where the Court has recognized that
[i]t is sometimes difficult for an officer to determine how
the relevant legal doctrine, here excessive force, will apply
to the factual situation the officer
brings two claims: unlawful restraint and excessive force.
The Court considers both claims under the Fourth Amendment.
first claim is for “unlawful restraint of anothers
[sic] personal liberty.” The Court ...