United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
C. CACHERIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
case arises out of Defendant Officer Joseph Young's use
of a Taser in the course of apprehending Plaintiff Lantz Day.
It is before the Court now on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Dkt. 41]. Because there remain unresolved
material issues of fact, Defendant's Motion will be
granted in part and denied in part.
facts upon which the Court relies are taken primarily from
Defendant's Listed Statement of Undisputed Material
Facts. See Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. [Dkt.
42] at 2-9 (“SOF”). They are undisputed unless
otherwise noted. As the Court has already catalogued the
circumstances of this case in a prior Order [Dkt. 25], it
repeats here only the facts germane to its ruling on
November 9, 2013, Plaintiff was involved in a car accident
with several other vehicles. SOF ¶¶ 3, 7-8.
Defendant was the first police officer to respond, and was
the only officer present throughout the events giving rise to
this suit. See id. ¶ 19.
route, the police dispatch center relayed to Defendant that
an individual involved in the accident had fled the scene.
Id. ¶ 5. It further reported that the man in
question was acting “combative” towards those who
attempted to prevent his flight, and had threatened to kill
anyone who called the police. Id.
arriving, Defendant found the road blocked by damaged
vehicles and was forced to disembark his police cruiser.
Id. ¶ 6. Multiple bystanders then directed
Defendant to a nearby intersection, where others pointed
Plaintiff out as the man who had fled the scene of the
accident. Id. ¶¶ 7, 15. Defendant observed
Plaintiff “moving aggressively toward
bystanders.” Id. ¶ 15.
approached Plaintiff and ordered him to lie down with his
hands out to his sides. Id. ¶ 16. Defendant
advised Plaintiff that he was not under arrest, only being
detained. See Opp. [Dkt. 44] at 1-2; Young Tr.
66-67. Plaintiff refused to comply. SOF ¶ 16. Defendant
then drew his Taser and threatened to use it if Plaintiff did
not do as he asked. Id.
lied down with his hands beneath his torso. Id.
¶¶ 16-17. Defendant again threatened to use his
Taser if Plaintiff did not bring his hands out to his sides,
then began to radio for backup. Id. ¶ 17. At
that point, Plaintiff pushed himself up and began to flee.
immediately “deployed his Taser toward
[Plaintiff]'s rear torso.” Id. ¶ 18.
The probes struck Plaintiff and he fell. See id.
¶¶ 18-20. One of the probes, however, did not
properly attach, becoming lodged in Plaintiff's clothing.
Id. ¶ 20.
parties dispute what followed. Defendant claims that
Plaintiff remained “able to move and speak”
because the probe failed to attach, id. ¶ 21,
and “actively resist[ed] arrest while being
handcuffed.” Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff, on the
other hand, contends that the Taser - while not entirely
effective - still delivered enough of an electrical shock to
subdue him. See Opp. [Dkt. 44] at 2-3. According to
Plaintiff, his movements once struck by Defendant's Taser
were involuntary, and he did not actively resist arrest.
parties agree, however, that Defendant maintained the
Taser's electrical current for 42 seconds during the
incident. See Mot. to Dismiss Exh. 60. Defendant
continued to depress the trigger of the Taser until a
bystander, Robert Schmidt, took handcuffs from Defendant and
placed them on Plaintiff's wrists. Id.
took Plaintiff into custody without further incident. See
Id. ¶¶ 23-24. Plaintiff was later sentenced to
prison for a term of six and one half years in connection
with the accident. See Id. ¶ 26.
November 6, 2015, Plaintiff filed suit against the City of
Fredericksburg, five John Doe defendants, former
Fredericksburg Police Chief James Powers, and Defendant
Officer Joseph Young. Plaintiff alleged a variety of claims,
all of which were either voluntarily dismissed or dismissed
by the Court, see Order [Dkt. 25], but for
Plaintiff's claims against Defendant for excessive use of
force under the Fourth Amendment and battery under Virginia
now moves for summary judgment, contending that he is
entitled to qualified immunity with respect to the claims
judgment is appropriate only if taking the evidence and all
reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, ‘no material facts
are disputed and the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law.'” Henry v. Purnell, 652
F.3d 524, 531 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ausherman v. Bank
of Am. Corp., 352 F.3d 896, 899 (4th Cir. 2003)). An
unresolved issue of fact precludes summary judgment only if
it is both “genuine” and “material.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
247-48 (1986). A factual dispute is genuine “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party” on that issue.
Id. at 248. It is material if it “might affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing law.”
Id. “In the end, the question posed by a
summary judgment motion is whether the evidence ‘is so
one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of
law.'” Lee v. Bevington, 647 F. App'x
275, 277 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S.
evaluating whether Defendant is entitled to qualified
immunity, the Court must determine “(1) whether the
plaintiff has established the violation of a constitutional
right, and (2) whether that right was clearly established at
the time of the alleged violation.” Raub v.
Campbell, 785 F.3d 876, 881 (4th Cir. 2015), cert.
denied, 136 S.Ct. 503 (2015). The order in which to
decide these issues is left to the Court's discretion.
See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009).
Defendant's Initial ...