United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
Joseph Anderson filed this pro se civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his
constitutional rights. Defendant Rodriguez has filed a Motion
for Summary Judgment, as well as a memorandum of law and
supporting exhibits. Dkt. Nos. 26, 27. Plaintiff was given
the Notice required by Local Rule 7(K) and the opportunity to
file responsive materials pursuant to Roseboro v.
Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975). Plaintiff has
filed a response, and the matter is now ripe for disposition.
For the reasons that follow, defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment must be granted.
Undisputed Factual Background
times relevant to this lawsuit, defendant Tonmy M. Rodriguez
held the rank of Detective within the Loudoun County Sheriffs
Office. Dkt. No. 27, Rodriguez Aff. ("Rod. Aff.")
¶ 1. On September 8, 2013, Rodriguez arrested plaintiff
for public intoxication at or near a gas station parking lot
located at 22605 Glenn Drive in Loudoun County, Virginia.
Id ¶¶ 2-3. At that time, plaintiff was
5' 11" in height and weighed 195 pounds.
Id. ¶ 5. Deputy Rodriguez was 5'5" in
height and weighed 170 pounds. Id. Also at that
time, while both men were visible from the public streets,
Rodriguez observed that plaintiff smelled like alcohol, was
slurring his speech, had glassy eyes, and was unsteady on his
feet. Id. ¶ 3. Additionally, plaintiff yelled
his answers to Rodriguez and at one point, punched a wooden
rail on a bridge near the gas station. Id. Upon
these observations, Deputy Rodriguez arrested plaintiff for
public intoxication, placed plaintiff in his police cruiser,
and took plaintiff to the sally port, the controlled
entryway, at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center.
Id ¶¶ 3-4. While he was driving,
Rodriguez's pistol, baton, and other defensive gear were
located in the trunk of his cruiser. Id ¶ 9.
Rodriguez had placed plaintiff in the cruiser, radio dispatch
informed Rodriguez that plaintiff had a history of aggression
and that he had been hostile toward law enforcement in the
past. Id ¶ 5. When they arrived at the Loudoun
County Adult Detention Center, plaintiff stepped out of the
cruiser, and said to Rodriguez, "Don't fucking touch
me." Id ¶ 6. Rodriguez then seized
plaintiffs left arm above the elbow and began to lead
plaintiff to the door of the booking area. Id.
¶ 7. Plaintiff pulled away from Rodriguez's hand and
elbowed Rodriguez in the chest with his left arm. Id
Rodriguez then hooked plaintiffs arm with his right hand in
order to detain plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff began
walking forward, dragging Rodriguez along with him.
Id Plaintiff, using his left leg, then kicked
Rodriguez's right leg, causing Rodriguez to stumble.
Id Rodriguez then pushed plaintiff to ward the hood
of the police cruiser. Id In order to maintain
control over the situation, Rodriguez swept plaintiffs leg,
causing plaintiff to fall onto the passenger side of the
cruiser's hood. Id. While plaintiff was on the
hood of the cruise, Rodriguez radioed for backup. Id
Plaintiff then attempted to get free of his handcuffs and
pushed back against Rodriguez. Id. In response,
Rodriguez guided plaintiff to the ground and placed his knee
on plaintiffs back to keep him still. Id While
placed on the ground, plaintiff continued to resist and
threatened to get an Uzi and start shooting cops once he got
out of jail. Id. At this point, other deputies
arrived and helped Rodriguez safely secure plaintiff.
Id ¶ 8.
times, Rodriguez used the minimum amount of force necessary
to maintain control of plaintiff and to protect himself from
bodily harm. Id. ¶ 9. As stated above,
Rodriguez's pistol, baton, and other defensive gear were
in the trunk of his cruiser at the time of the struggle and
were not used at any time. Id.
to the incident, Magistrate Judge Franchok issued a warrant
for assault on a law enforcement officer, and a summons for
public intoxication, to plaintiff. Id. ¶ 10.
Subsequent to a jury trial on February 11, 2014, in the
Circuit Court of Loudoun County, plaintiff was found not
guilty of assault and battery and of intoxication in public.
Dkt. No. 32, Ex. 2 (Crim. No. 25986-00, -01). The charges
against plaintiff were dismissed by order dated July 25,
2014, but plaintiff continued to be held without bond on a
parole violation. Id.
filed the instant action on August 27, 2014, alleging that
Deputy Rodriguez violated his constitutional rights by: (1)
falsely arresting him, and (2) using excessive during the
course of the arrest.
Standard of Review
judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The moving party bears the burden
of proving that judgment on the pleadings is appropriate. See
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
To meet that burden, the moving party must demonstrate that
no genuine issues of material fact are present for
resolution. Id. at 322. Once a moving party has met
its burden to show that it is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party
to point out the specific facts that create disputed factual
issues. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In evaluating a
motion for summary judgment, a district court should consider
the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in
favor of that party. United States v. Diebold. Inc.,
369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). Those facts which the moving party
bears the burden of proving are facts which are material.
" [T]he substantive law will identify which facts are
material. Only disputes over facts which might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment."
Anderson. 477 U.S. at 248. An issue of material fact
is genuine when, "the evidence... create[s] [a] fair
doubt; wholly speculative assertions will not suffice."
Ross v. Commc'ns Satellite Corp., 759 F.2d 355,
364 (4th Cir. 1985), abrogated on other grounds
by Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989).
Thus, summary judgment is appropriate only where no material
facts are genuinely disputed and the evidence as a whole
could not lead a rational fact finder to rule for the
nonmoving party. Matsushita. 475 U.S. at 587.
Plaintiff was not falsely arrested because Rodriguez had
probable cause to believe that plaintiff was publically
intoxicated prior to conducting the arrest
courts of appeals hold divergent views regarding whether and
under what circumstances § 1983 provides a malicious
prosecution or false arrest cause of action. See
Lambert v. Williams, 223 F.3d 257.261 (4th Cir.
2000). cert, denied. 531 U.S. 1130(2001). In this circuit, a
§ 1983 claim for malicious prosecution and/or false
arrest is properly understood "as a Fourth Amendment
claim for unreasonable seizure which incorporates some of the
elements of the common law tort." Id; see
also, Brown v. Gilmore, 278 F.3d 362, 367 (4th Cir.
2002) (recognizing that a plaintiff alleging a § 1983
false arrest claim needs to show that the officer decided to
arrest him without probable cause to establish an
unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment); Rogers
v. Pendleton, 249 F.3d 279, 294 (4th Cir. 2001) (§
1983 claims of false arrest and false imprisonment "are
essentially claims alleging a seizure of the person in
violation of the Fourth Amendment."). To prevail on a
claim of false arrest, a plaintiff must show that the
defendant lacked probable cause. Brown. 278 F.3d at
367; see also, Gatter v. Zappile,
67 F.Supp.2d 515, 519 (E.D. Pa. 1999).
elements of the crime at issue - public intoxication - are:
1) being intoxicated; 2) in public. Va. Code § 18.2-388
("any person [who]... is intoxicated in public ... shall
be deemed guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor").
"Intoxicated" is defined as having drunk enough
alcohol "to observably affect[J ... speech[, ]... or
behavior." Id. § 4.1 -100. "In
public" is "a place in open view, visible to the
community." Crislip v. Virginia, 554 S.E.2d 96,
98 (Va. 2001) (holding that arrestee was intoxicated "in
public" while he was ...